Sixty miles west of Boston, Massachusetts there is the small New England town of Sturbridge. Located at the junction of I-90 (The Mass Pike), and I-84 it has become known as the "Crossroads of New England". The town was first settled over 300 years ago, and like other small New England towns it has grown just enough over the years to be in a difficult place today. How do we embrace the future without forgetting how we got to our present? How do we attract the right kind of growth, and maintain who we are? And, what about our culture out here in Central Massachusetts?
These pages will cause one to think about how to protect what we have, our future direction, and how to move on in the very best way.
Those thoughts, and other ramblings, will hopefully inspire more thought, conversation, action, and occasionally a smile...
...seems to be working so far
Friday, April 5, 2013
Pass The Sugar
Read that again.
A department head would have a great understanding of the the job they were placed in as the head of their department by living here, says the chairman.
If one was promoted, or hired, into a departments heads position one would think that the experience, education, and personality were the prime reasons for the hire, not where they parked their car at night. If one is going to be chronically tardy, or absent for work when they live in East Cowudder, that won't change when they move to 01566.
Another reason given is for the department heads to be readily available in an emergency. If they have a car, and the roads are clear, they'll be here if the emergency warrants. Just call them. Being in town doesn't mean they will be available in time of an emergency. All it means is that they will be closer to it.
The final reason given in the above statement is the silliest, and I am almost afraid to take it seriously being so close to April 1st. I can't help, but think we are all being pranked.
"...to foster the general economic benefits which result from spending one's salary in the employing community, while sharing associated local tax burdens and creating a greater sense of ownership within the community; the Town of Sturbridge hereby establishes the following residency requirements."
No, not really, more dumbfounded. Is he actually saying that spending the salary the town pays the department heads here in town, and paying local taxes would create a greater sense of ownership within the community?
Yes, that is what he said. He wants the money the town pays its department heads to be paid toward local taxes, and to be spent in town to foster an economic benefit. Whose economic benefit, the department heads, or the towns?
So, my working in Boston, and living in Sturbridge, does not allow me to have a greater sense of ownership than I already have for my position, and should be spending my salary, that I am paid by my Boston employer, not in Sturbridge, but in Boston so I can foster a better economic benefit where I am employed.
Unless, there is more to this than meets the eye. Sometimes politics is so opaque we can only wonder what goes on behind closed doors, seldom is it as transparent as the statement, "'Initially, my residency requirement is going to be specific to the town administrator,'" Mr. Creamer said."
Ahhh, and every once in a rare while, the very reason for all the craziness at the tea party is shared by none other than the Hatter himself.
Article published Apr 3, 2013
Sturbridge department heads are spinning over residency bylaw proposal
By Craig S. Semon, TELEGRAM & GAZETTE STAFF
STURBRIDGE _ A proposed bylaw article would force eight current (and all future) department heads to live in town or resign from their positions, if it passes.
Shortly after 11 p.m. Monday, Selectmen Chairman Thomas R. Creamer advised his fellow board members that he wanted to place a "Department Head Residency Requirements' bylaw article on the special town meeting warrant.
The article would amend the town's general bylaws and require all department heads to live in Sturbridge. In terms of penalty, the proposed bylaw states, "Failure to establish such residency within the established time-period shall be deemed to be a resignation from the office held by the department head".
"Initially, my residency requirement is going to be specific to the town administrator," Mr. Creamer said.
Currently, eight of the 10 department heads, including Town Administrator Shaun A. Suhoski and Police Chief Thomas J. Ford III, live outside of Sturbridge.
The remaining town department heads who are out-of-towners are: Town Planner Jean M. Bubon of Palmer, Finance Director Barbara A. Barry of Palmer, Principal Assessor William B. Mitchell of East Brookfield, Conservation Agent Glenn D. Colburn of Monson. Building Inspector Curt J. Meskus of Charlton, and Town Accountant Jean Joel of Barre.
Fire Chief Leonard E. Senecal and Department of Public Works Director Gregory H. Morse are the only two department heads that live in Sturbridge.
"I don't know if there is a shared sense of sacrifice and/or recognition of some of the issues that people in this community are dealing with on a regular basis," Mr. Creamer said. "I think everybody in the community should share the sacrifices and the burden that we all have here."
Reading the "purpose" of his proposed article, Mr. Creamer said, "In an effort to enhance the quality of employee performance through greater personal knowledge of and experience with the community's conditions; and, to develop a greater personal stake in the community's progress, while reducing the potential for absences and tardiness; and to ensure the ready availability of trained and critical management personnel in emergencies; and to foster the general economic benefits which result from spending one's salary in the employing community, while sharing associated local tax burdens and creating a greater sense of ownership within the community; the Town of Sturbridge hereby establishes the following residency requirements."
According to the proposed article, all newly appointed department heads (i.e. after the adoption of the bylaw) as identified in the town's organizational chart must establish residency in the Town of Sturbridge within 12 months of the successful conclusion of their six-month probationary period.
In addition, all currently serving department heads as identified in the town's organizational chart must establish residency in town within 18 months of the effective date of adoption of the bylaw.
The proposed article defines "residency" to mean the place where the employee normally eats and sleeps and maintains his/her normal personal and household effects.
Selectmen will most likely vote on the matter on Tuesday. A majority vote of the selectmen is necessary to place the article on the special town meeting warrant.
"It will be interesting to hear the arguments made at next Tuesday's selectmen meeting, as to how it's beneficial to the town and what the selectman who is proposing it is thinking," Mr. Suhoski said.
Mr. Mitchell said he thought the proposed bylaw amendment article is inappropriate for a town the size of Sturbridge. In addition, he thinks a regional marketing study on homes needs to be conducted before solidifying the 18-months grace period.
"You have a population of 9,000 in town, and to find a specialized position to live in town for the assessor or the finance director or other department head positions -- it's very tricky," Mr. Mitchell said. "It's a specialized type position. There's a lot of training required, and to find it in a community this size is near impossible. So I don't think it's appropriate."
Mr. Colburn said he would certainly be disappointed if he lost his job over a residency qualification and, if push comes to shove, he would not move to Sturbridge to keep his job.
Mr. Colburn said he was told there were more than 40 applicants for the conservation agent job that he eventually got, but none from any Sturbridge residents.
"I can see the point that you certainly want people on commissions to be town residents. … But I think some of the other departments, going outside the town, certainly opens up the pool of qualified people," Mr. Colburn said. "You're limiting the town too much and eliminating a lot of very qualified that could well for this town by instituting this bylaw. I think it's a mistake, myself."
Ms. Bubon said she had heard of the proposed bylaw but had not had an opportunity to review it yet, while Ms. Joel said she had no comment.
Mr. Ford, Ms. Barry and Mr. Meskus did not returns calls and could not be reached for comment.
Contact Craig S. Semon at email@example.com