Letter: Town manager system better for Bennington
I am a resident of Shaftsbury who is heavily involved in Bennington organizations and I have a deep interest in and a desire for the growth and increased vitality that seems to be the direction of Bennington's future.
In considering the "mayoral" question I would suggest the voters not consider the current set of incumbent leadership (they will change completely over time) but they seriously think about the skill sets required to manage and fund just the four basic areas that towns and cities have had as their primary responsibilities for centuries: roads, water, sewer and garbage.
Town operations involve doing real things for real people in a timely manner at reasonable costs. But, the areas I mentioned are complicated by being subject to a vast array of state and federal laws, regulations, rules, guidelines and "best practices" promulgated and reigned over by bureaucrats who believe processes are much more important than results. The knowledge and awareness required to efficiently and effectively provide services to any town requires a lot of training, study, and both management and communication skills.
The current town manager system involves a professional, replaceable employee, someone hired with the required specialized training and knowledge plus the awareness of how the bureaucratic and physical/logistical systems work and how any change would affect the provision and cost of services.
The proposed mayor system involves an elected person of some popularity who, if the voters are lucky, will have some actual awareness and ability in some of the areas.
Furthermore, it seems inevitable that a move to a mayoral system will require the addition of a number of mayoral assistants to the town budget, each specializing in handling a specific area or areas and making the mayor look good, not necessarily in that order. The five areas I mentioned: roads, water, sewer, garbage, and funding; are just the basics, there would be more.
From a managerial and taxpayer perspective I see the town manager system as superior. I hope the voters agree.
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