Carbondale trustees, new town manager outline goals
CARBONDALE – One of new Carbondale Town Manager Jay Harrington’s goals as he takes the helm is to help rein in what’s become an often-cumbersome governmental process in the town.
That includes the sometimes-lengthy public review process for land-use matters.
Harrington met with the Carbondale Board of Trustees in a Sept. 6 work session to discuss goals and expectations for himself, town staff and the board.
Harrington officially took over as town manager in mid-August, after he was selected in an extensive search by the town board earlier this year. He replaces former town manager Tom Baker, whose contract was not renewed at the end of last year.
“One of my goals is to try to streamline your time, and the time spent by staff in meetings,” Harrington said. “Meetings aren’t always the most productive use of time … and I’m concerned about the amount of time spent in this room.”
One immediate change will be that Town Board meetings will start a half-hour earlier, at 6 p.m. on Tuesdays instead of 6:30.
When it comes to land-use hearings, Harrington suggested a more orderly procedure.
Several such hearings in recent years have tended to drag on, with hours upon hours of meetings and no clear order to things.
Harrington said the board should post a clear order of business for each meeting. That way, there is an expectation for the applicant and the public.
If an application changes significantly during the Town Board’s review, it should be sent back to the Planning and Zoning Commission for review, he said.
And, when it comes to staff recommendations on any matter, they should be concise and based on town code, he said.
“Part of my job is to try to stay neutral on the political issues, and to keep staff neutral and objective,” Harrington said.
The meeting also offered an opportunity for trustees to state some of their expectations for the new town manager.
“I want to see town government be more professional,” Trustee John Foulkrod said. “People need to do their job, and care about what they’re doing. That needs to happen through your leadership.”
Mayor Stacey Bernot and Trustee Pam Zentmyer both emphasized better communication internally, and externally with the public and those doing business with the town.
“I’d like to see a better record of conversations between staff and the public,” especially when issues come before the board,” Zentmyer said.
Trustees John Hoffmann and Ed Cortez both spoke to the need for the board to stick to “policy governance,” and let Harrington deal with the job of managing town government operations.
“The board needs to know what its job is and its boundaries, and let town staff do its job,” Cortez said.
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