TOWNSEND — A list of goals discussed by selectmen during the summer are well on the way to becoming reality.
First on the list, summarized by Town Administrator Andy Sheehan in a Dec. 11 memo, is financial stability.
Maintaining a balanced and responsible budget is part of this category. This year, the town had enough free cash that the Jan. 7 town meeting put $200,000 into two separate stabilization accounts.
Bond rating agencies look favorably at the reserves when funding is needed for capital purchases, Sheehan said. The reserves can also be used in the case of an emergency.
Retiree health insurance benefits also falls under the category of financial stability.
During the Jan. 6 selectmen’s meeting, Sheehan and Selectman Colin McNabb were tasked with looking into the cost, ramifications and desirability of offering health insurance to retired municipal employees. Townsend is one of the few communities in Massachusetts that does not offer the benefit, McNabb said.
The second major category of the selectmen’s goals is policies and procedures that include transparency, good conduct and responsible government.
An article at town meeting creating a bylaw requiring multi-member boards to post minutes and agendas online was an effort to increase transparency, said Sue Lisio, chairman of the Board of Selectmen, at the town meeting on Jan. 7.
The article was defeated. Selectman Carolyn Smart said the requirement should be a policy, not a bylaw.
The selectmen have discussed ways to address a third area of concern, centering on existing employees.
Sheehan said he may request money in fiscal year to be used for training town boards, employees and department heads. The selectmen’s goals for employees include professional development training and training on personnel procedures and compliance with open meeting and ethics laws.
No decisions have been made on the fiscal year 2016 budget, and Smart said some of this training is available free-of-charge through the town’s insurance company and employee assistance programs.
Town meeting was a huge push in the direction of improving the information technology system, the fourth and final selectmen’s goals.
Voters approved a $35,000 appropriation for the IT budget. There was no discussion.
The money will purchase new software, computers and other hardware, Sheehan said, but further changes in IT might happen in the near future.
The IT support contract with Townsend Technologies expires at the end of fiscal year 2015. The board will need to decide whether to continue to contract out the service or to bring it in-house, Sheehan said.
Smart spoke approvingly of the goals and the efforts to meet them.
They are a roadway to a productive, healthy government, she said. “It is time to move forward to the next step and get them accomplished.”