OpEd: Home rule in Tisbury is needed

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The Tisbury Planning Board, with the active support of the board of selectmen, has completed a visioning process for our town. The six well-attended community meetings produced eight consensus priorities that will be reviewed at the upcoming Tisbury town meeting. One of these asks that Tisbury government be better coordinated, functional, and accountable. We agree. In fact, we believe this recommendation is critical to achieving the remaining priorities.

As this visioning process was being completed, the board of selectmen authorized our town administrator to identify consultants to begin work as soon as the town was ready to identify solutions. That time has arrived.

Tisbury voters can take an important step at the special town meeting on Tuesday and pass article 7, which would reintegrate our independently functioning Department of Public Works (DPW) back into town government. This would enable the board of selectmen, which sets policy and direction, and the town administrator, who is the personnel director and chief procurement officer of the town, to oversee and coordinate the functions and personnel of the DPW. The current DPW elected board of commissioners would be replaced by an appointed DPW advisory board to advise the board of selectmen and the town administrator.

Having an independent DPW is an atypical structure in Massachusetts. In the whole state, only a handful of towns out of more than 350 operate with this form of organization. We believe the business of the town will be conducted more effectively and accountably under one consolidated organization. This is clearly the organizational trend across the state as towns, facing increasing challenges, seek to simplify communication, improve planning, and provide essential services at lower cost.

We urge the voters of Tisbury to support this article and give direction to the work that lies ahead. State Representative Tim Madden explains that gaining the approval of the state legislature for this “home rule” petition will take about 18 months following consent of town meeting. This offers us ample opportunity to effect a smooth transition. Let’s work together to improve Tisbury’s structure and management.

Jon Snyder, Tristan Israel, Melinda Loberg

Tisbury board of selectmen