Amherst recruiting volunteers to serve new town government 

  • Amherst Town Hall FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 2/7/2019 1:57:20 PM

AMHERST — As the new town government continues to develop, Town Hall is putting out the call to residents to serve on both existing boards and new committees being created by the Town Council and the town charter.

Town Manager Paul Bockelman said this week that he is actively recruiting people, and suggests they complete community action forms so they can be considered for appointments.

“A lot of people are saying they’re excited by the new form of government and are looking for ways to be involved,” Bockelman said.

Among the new committees which need residents to serve on are the Finance Committee, the Ranked Choice Voting Commission and the Participatory Budgeting Commission, while many existing committees have vacancies or could soon have openings, including the Affordable Housing Trust, Cultural Council, Agricultural Commission, Public Art Commission, Council on Aging, Downtown Parking Working Group, Historical Commission, Human Rights Commission, Local Historic District Commission, LSSE Commission, Public Shade Tree Committee and Transportation Advisory Committee.

Bockelman said finding people to appoint is a time-consuming process as he is handling the interviews of applicants, which can last about 15 minutes.

In seeking members, Bockelman has to abide by the language in the charter, which states that those people chosen have “relevant expertise or experience.” But he is also aiming to have people from diverse backgrounds.

Brianna Sunryd, the town’s communications manager, said there have been 42 community action forms submitted online since Jan. 1, which indicates the level of interest from residents.

Sunryd helped streamline these forms, previously called citizen action forms, in which people can request to serve on one or more committees or provide information about their general interests.

For the nine-member Finance Committee, which reviews budgets and appropriations, the five councilors who serve on it will have the only votes, while the four residents, according to the charter, “shall have a voice but no vote in the Finance Committee’s deliberations.”

Bockelman is responsible for some appointments to the new committees, while the Town Council will handle others.

For the Ranked Choice Voting Commission, for instance, which will develop a proposal to adopt and implement ranked-choice voting, Bockelman will appoint  three councilors, with the Town Council appointing the other three. The Participatory Budgeting Commission will have three Bockelman appointments and two by the council.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com


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