Amherst Select Board, the executive branch of town government
The Amherst Select Board heard from two Kopalman & Paige ("The leaders in pubic sector law") attorneys last night on the do's and dont's of all things Charter change. Most of it common sense, which this current Board has in abundant supply.
Prior to the March 29 election the Select Board can do nothing out of the ordinary to influence voters one way or the other on how to vote especially if expends taxpayer funds. No use of snail mail, email list serves, extra notices on the town website, etc.
After the election the 9 member Charter Commission becomes like any other town body but with the added bonus of $5,000 in town funds, guaranteed office space and direct use of the town attorney.
And again the same hands off rules apply with the Select Board for dealing with the more epic vote of passing the new Charter.
The Select Board can assign one of its members as liaison to the Charter Commission to attend every meeting and report back to his/her Board, and Open Meeting Law even allows for a quorum of Select Board members to attend any Charter Commission meeting as long as they do not participate in a "deliberative" manner.
The Select Board can, however, take a formal vote as to whether they support the new Charter and issue a press release.
Interestingly the Interim Town Manager sneaked a pay raise into the upcoming FY17 budget for the Select Board going from a $300 annual haul all the way up to $1,500 (plus an extra $500 for the Chair).
Yes, a long ways from the $9,000 Northampton City Councilors make -- but still a solid move towards a more professional government.
Something needed now more than ever.