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Northfield to hold forum on possible town government changes tonight

NORTHFIELD — A local committee is bringing in the experts for a forum on possible changes to the town’s government structure.

The Northfield Town Governance Study Committee will hold a public forum at 6:30 p.m. today in Town Hall.

Panelists will include Bernard Kubiak, Deerfield’s retiring town administrator and a former 12-year member of the Belchertown Board of Selectmen; Joseph Markarian, director of technical assistance for the state Division of Local Services and author of a 2011 review of Northfield’s financial management; and Donald Robinson, professor of government at Smith College, and a nine-year former member of the Ashfield Board of Selectmen, who also served on a town governance study committee in that town.

The committee was formed in March after an unofficial government study group brought the idea to a special town meeting. The unofficial group had been looking into different forms of town government and how they may fit into Northfield since October.

Subjects of study have included going from a three- to five-member Selectboard, creating a policy guideline document the town administrator could use to guide decisions, and the possibility of changing that position to a more highly qualified, but higher-paid, town manager.

Once formed, the official committee was given 90 days to issue its findings, and asked to give a progress report to the annual town meeting.

Chairman Barry Bordner told those at the annual meeting that the group, now consisting of seven members, was enthusiastic and has been making headway.

The committee has identified 29 towns similar to Northfield, and 13 towns that have had governance study committees, so members may study them.

They have also conducted interviews of Northfield employees, visited some of the towns on their list and spoken to their administrators and former selectmen, and collected and reviewed job descriptions for town managers and town administrators in several towns.

Tonight’s forum will also be broadcast live on BNCTV, channel 17.

David Rainville can be reached at
or 413-772-0261, ext. 279

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