Committee formed to review town committees

BAR HARBOR — In line with a goal set for this year, the Town Council has set up a subcommittee to review the effectiveness of standing, nonelected committees following a unanimous vote at its May 15 meeting. The subcommittee will be made up of Councilors Erin Cough and Matt Hochman and Town Manager Cornell Knight.

The council’s goals’ document for this year recommends appointing a committee to update a draft handbook for boards and committees. Councilors said it would be helpful to give committees, boards and task forces a clearer explanation of their responsibilities.

Town Clerk Sharon Linscott said that 13 committees, boards and task forces fit under the umbrella of the “standing committees” the group will work on. These committees include the Cruise Ship Committee, the Design Review Board and the Planning Board.

Knight said he also would involve appropriate staff members, such as Harbormaster Charlie Phippen and Town Planner Janna Richards, to inform decision making on the committees they oversee.

Councilor Judie Noonan expressed interest in serving on the committee, but Cough suggested Hochman because he has been serving on the council for longer.

“I think it absolutely needs to be done,” Noonan said. “I think we have problems getting people to serve on committees,” perhaps because their mandates are sometimes confusing.

If the subcommittee included three councilors, rather than two, their meetings would have to be advertised according to state meeting laws. State law requires all meetings with three or more elected officials be held after “ample” notice is given to the public. Knight said Monday that the subcommittee’s meetings still will be advertised.

Cough initially made a motion to leave task forces out of the subcommittee’s work saying their work is generally more targeted than other boards and committees. But the motion was amended after Hochman mentioned the communication and technology task force and the recycling task force as longer-running committees with broader scopes of work.

Samuel Shepherd

Samuel Shepherd

Samuel Shepherd is a University of Maine graduate and a former Bar Harbor reporter for the Mount Desert Islander.
Samuel Shepherd

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