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Thoughtful Decision Making, Better Planning & Deliberation

Amherst’s new charter combines the thoughtful deliberation and oversight of our Select Board and the neighborhood representation of Town Meeting into a Town Council with benefits of both. It’s been said that the Select Board can deliberate but can’t act, and Town Meeting can act, but can’t deliberate. Most towns our size have combined the roles of Select Board and Town Meeting into a representative Town Council, and that’s what our proposal does as well. A Town Council will have both the power to act and the size and meeting frequency to really discuss important budget and zoning decisions in …

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Sandy Pooler on Town Meeting, charter

  Sandy Pooler earned a lot of respect among Amherst residents during the five years he spent at Town Hall as finance director. Two years ago, he left to become deputy town manager in Arlington, but he still keeps an eye on what’s happening in Amherst. I spoke to him recently about the charter campaign. Even though Pooler no longer lives in Amherst, he made a contribution to Amherst for All, the pro-charter organization. I asked what he thought about the proposal for a 13-member Town Council to replace Town Meeting and the Select Board. “A smaller group of people …

Council/manager is most popular in U.S.

  Amherst may seem like an island sometimes, but it’s not. People all across the country have wrestled with this question: “What’s the best system of local government for representing the people and making good decisions?” So what can we learn from looking outward, at how other communities govern themselves? First, the council/manager structure proposed in the new charter is the most popular form of local government in the country. Nationwide, it is used in more than half the communities with populations over 10,000. It governs about one-third of the U.S. population – over 105 million people. The council-manager form …

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Charter keeps what works well now – From the Majority Report

Amherst’s proposed Charter does not change our entire government. It keeps a number of key features that have worked well for us. For example, most residents who the Charter Commission talked to said that the day-to-day management of Town functions is good. We have skilled administrators, financial stability, and a wide range of services. We have checks and balances between professional staff and citizen representatives. And we have a variety of citizen boards and committees. The proposed Charter preserves all of these elements. Professional management for a complex environment. With an $86 million Town budget, three institutions of higher learning, …