Town Government Position – 1974, 1982

Goal:  More efficient and responsive town government.

The League will support the hiring of a qualified town engineer.

Realizing that changing the status of an elected or appointed position has long-lasting effects, the League believes that there should be a review including the following issues:

  • Whether the position is administrative, requiring specific skills, or policy making
  • Whether the change is cost effective
  • Whether there are alternatives for restructuring the office.

The League believes that, in general, policy-making positions should be elected and administrative positions should be appointed. 

The League supports the use of professional town administrators who deal with overall administrative functions of the town but are not policy makers – they carry out the policy set by elected boards.  In addition to the performance of routine tasks under the heading of general, financial, and personnel management and public relations, the League believes that the following duties should be included in the responsibilities of those positions which fall under the definition of professional administrator:

  • Recommendation of reorganization of administrative structure
  • Supervision of bylaw enforcement
  • Liaison among town boards and departments
  • Recommendation of policy
  • Central purchasing agent
  • Assistance in budget preparation
  • Recruitment for appointments
  • Contract negotiations
  • Application preparation

The League supports a periodic review of the structure of town government.

Background note:

The following article appeared in the Thursday, February 28, 1974 edition of The Westford Eagle on page 3:

The League of Women Voters of Westford announced today it is supporting the hiring of a town engineer for Westford.  The support position was reached after extensive study of town engineering needs in Westford and a comparison of Westford with several other towns of similar size and government structure.  The League believes a town engineer is badly needed by thr town of Westford and feels any further delay in hiring one will be costly to the town financially and through loss of much needed services.  

The League of Women Voters envisions the town engineer’s duties to include but not be limited to the following:

  1. Performing engineering services for town boards and departments to eliminate some of the engineering consulting fees and surveying expenses now being paid.
  2. Supervising the sanitary landfill operation to ensure maximum life expectancy.
  3. Enforcing subdivision control regulations to eliminate costly drainage and road problems.
  4. Serve as chief building inspector.
    1. To administer the zoning bylaws and building code.
    2. To supervise inspections.
    3. To provide one central office for all documents and plans.
  5. Serve as agent for the Board of Health to review criteria and procedures for percolation tests.
  6. Supervised all town construction projects to ensure that specifications are adhered to.
  7. Advise the Board of Selectman on gravel removal permits.

At the present time there is no single qualified employee performing these necessary jobs for Westford.  A fact sheet will be mailed to all Westford residents prior to the town meeting to provide for information as well as cost figures relative to the creation of the post of town engineer. (Ed. Note: No fact sheet could be found in the files.)