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Forum on Northfield governance study Friday

NORTHFIELD — A Friday night forum will focus on the findings of a study on the town’s form of government and possible changes to it.

The Town Governance Study Committee will present its findings thus far and host an expert panel at 6 p.m., in Green Trees Gallery on Main Street.

Kris Burns, former chairman of the Orange Town Governance Study Committee and owner of the Millers River Cafe, will be joined by Joseph Knox, former chairman of Littleton’s Governance Study Committee, the Board of Selectmen, Zoning Board of Appeals, among other town positions, and Michael Ward, director of municipal services for the Collins Center for Public Management. Ward has also been a consultant to governance study committees in several Massachusetts towns and cities, and is writing a handbook for such committees.

Since April, the Town Governance Study Committee has researched municipal governments in towns similar to Northfield. Members have visited several such towns, met with their elected officials and hired administrators, and looked into the logistics of changing Northfield’s governance structure.

They’ve also interviewed several Northfield officials and employees.

Topics 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.

When former Town Administrator Tom Hutcheson announced in July that he was leaving to become Conway’s administrator, the committee took the opportunity to revamp the position’s job description.

Tuesday, members presented a draft of that description for the Selectboard’s consideration as the town seeks a permanent replacement for Hutcheson.

Members said they believe the drafted description strikes a good balance between a weak administrative assistant and a strong town manager.

Submit questions in advance

There will be a question-and-answer period after the panel discussion. To facilitate the process, committee members are asking residents to email questions ahead of time, to northfieldtgsc@gmail.com.

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