BOS Hold All Hands Goal Planning Session

By Michelle Murdock, Freelance Writer

Goals were on the agenda at the recent Board of Selectmen's meeting. Over 30 department heads and committee chairs joined the board on Tuesday, August 16th for an "all hands" brainstorming session on how to meet the five goals for FY12 identified by the board.

Turnout for the working session was good and Town Manager Norman Khumalo was pleased.

"The attendance by town departments as well as volunteers was amazing," said Khumalo. "The discussions were inspiring and I'm sure that the selectmen will identify some information that they will certainly be following up. We hope to continue these sessions in the coming months."

The majority of the discussion took place in small groups. Each table discussed their ideas and came up with proposed suggestions to meet the five goals.

Selectman Chair Todd Cestari discussed guidelines for the teamwork of the night.

"We're hoping that all groups can get on the same footing and help push the town towards it goals," said Cestari.

The first goal was to preserve the town's fiscal health. Suggested solutions included controlling health care costs, increasing the commercial tax base and looking for efficiencies and partnerships.

The second goal was resolving the needs of Center School. The general feedback was that a better needs assessment should be done in order to gain consensus from all residents about how to move forward. Other ideas included a cost benefit analysis and better and more effective communication with the public.

Strengthening civic engagement and enhancing communications with the community was the third goal discussed. Suggested solutions included better use of technology, the use of surveys to gather opinions and better utilization of existing website and HCAM.

The final tow goals were developing an asset management plan and a plan for employee training.

School Committee member Troy Mick agreed, saying "The town needs an asset management plan."

At the end of the discussion, facilitator Mark Wey, a strategic planning consultant, summarized all the ideas generated and talked about the town's most important asset; its people. He encouraged all attendees to learn how to better engage the people while working towards accomplishing their goals.

"This is just the first step," said Wey. "It's going to be a marathon. It's a a lot of work."

Cestari agreed and said that Wey would be compiling the information from the night's session for review by the board.

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