GROTON -- The Groton Town Meeting Review Committee remained unable to agree on final questions slated for a residents' survey quizzing them on feelings about the town meeting process.
The subject of the survey was one that the committee has been wrestling with for some time. Member Scott Harker has been advocating for as much detail as possible while others such as Chairman Robert Collins and fellow member Alison Eyedenberg call for less emphasis on personal information.
"All we're trying to get is feedback," pleaded Collins on March 27. He was responding to Harker's argument for gathering information such as income, age and years of residency in town.
Harker argued that such information was needed to build a profile of the typical voter and where his or her decision to attend or not to attend town meeting came from.
In addition, Harker also insisted that it was important to know the number of registered voters in town in order to insure achievement of statistical accuracy in the survey.
But other members were not convinced if that was needed in order to validate the survey results.
The ultimate goal was to get input, said Eyedenberg.
"This is taking a temperature of who the town is," said Harker of the need for the added information.
"It's irrelevant," said Collins.
"We're looking for information we can respond to not information for information's sake," said Eyedenberg.
Committee members had prepared a draft of the proposed survey at an earlier meeting and have been tinkering with it ever since. Once finalized, it will likely be sent to voters via bills sent out by the Groton Electric Light Department or with copies of the warrant for spring town meeting.
The heart of the survey is made up of questions that seek to find out how respondents feel about town meeting and what their rate of attendance is. Followup questions ask what things keep respondents from attending town meeting and what kind of changes to its format would be likely to get them to attend more regularly.
Charged by the Board of Selectmen with reviewing the viability of town meeting, the Study Committee is expected to examine the institution's legal framework, cost to the taxpayer, the times meetings are held. and any other subject it deems proper and to make recommendations for improvements, if any are needed, to the board.
Among the members appointed to the committee are attorney Robert Collins, Berta Erickson, Scott Harker, Greg Fishbone and Alison Eyedenberg.
Although not definitely nailed down, the drift of the group's March 27 meeting seemed to weigh in against personal information questions with Harker's desire to see a survey form mailed to every registered voter in town rather than simply to everyone getting an electric bill meeting somewhat less resistance.
Such a scenario, it was decided, would be much more costly but Harker told fellow committee members that someone on the town's FinCom assured him that money was no object.
With others wondering just how much money the committee had to spend, members voted to authorize Collins to speak with town manager Mark Haddad to find out for sure how much of it would be available.
At the same time, Collins was also to find out if funds were available for advertizing as well.
Members also approved sending a letter to the Board of Selectmen apprising them of the committee's progress to date.
The committee is tentatively scheduled to meet again on April 16 when it was hoped that a new version of the survey questions would be ready for final approval.