LITTLE COMPTON — The town council at its meeting Jan. 24 appointed six of seven members to the town Charter Review Commission and authorized Council President Robert Mushen to look for and appoint the seventh.
It also endorsed a charge to the commission that, if carried out by the commission and approved by voters, could alter the financial and operational management of the town.
Mr. Mushen outlined the charge Thursday night, saying he would later put it in writing. The charge, he said, was largely based on recommendations made by the Little Compton Budget Committee in a one-page letter to the council dated Jan. 21.
The six commission members appointed by the council were, in the order named: Jane Cabot, John Lint, Paul Golembeske, Robert Torchia, Scott Morrison, and Jacques Hopkins. The seventh appointee has yet to be identified by Mr. Mushen.
Among the tasks Mr. Mushen said he hoped the commission would address is to “strengthen the role of professional management” of the town, and to “cultivate turnover capability,” so that the town does not rely on a single person to manage the town.
The budget committee in its letter said, “[w]e believe the town needs to consider strengthening and expanding the role of a professional manager” in the management of the town’s affairs.
Noting the town’s long reliance on a “de-facto full-time Town Council President” to manage the town, which it said limits the number of people to fulfill that role, the budget committee said “[w]e believe that giving authority to the council to appoint a professional manager could expand the pool of candidates willing to serve on the council and help ensure continued effective operational management of the town.”
In his comments to the council, Mr. Mushen suggested that the town and the school department together could appoint a “single business manager.”
In this connection, another area of concern he said he hopes the charter review commission would address is the financial management of the town.
The budget committee wrote, “We believe the entire financial management system of the town, including the roles, responsibilities and qualifications of the office of the elected treasurer/tax collector, an elected board of assessors, a town business manager, and a school business manager, should be studied.”
Mr. Mushen also said he hopes the commission would “look at the relationship between the Little Compton Agricultural Conservancy Trust and the town,” and ways to improve communications, especially with regard to properties owned by the town.
Finally, Mr. Mushen said the commission should consider a different method for assessing property values in town, possibly shifting from a board of assessors to a single assessor.
The council voted to endorse Mr. Mushen’s development of a written charge to the commission.
In other action, the council appointed Richard P. D’Addario to serve as the town’s probate judge upon the retirement of Judge Sidney Clifford Jr. in July. Mr. D’Addario currently serves as alternate probate judge.