Lanesborough Town Employees Seek Formal Process for Resident Complaints
LANESBOROUGH, Mass. -- Town Hall employees are seeking protections similar to those of other municipal departments when it comes to resident complaints.
At a meeting of the Selectmen on Monday, Town Clerk Diane Stevens presented their concerns along with a proposal for a more formal, professional process for such complaints, based on best practices observed in many other municipalities.
"When someone makes a complaint against a police officer or a DPW employee, they're afforded the opportunity to meet in executive session, names are not aired in a public meeting," Stevens pointed out, saying workers at Town Hall are seeking a formal process where complaints are filed in writing, and investigated by Human Resources. If further action is needed, it can the be discussed by the Select Board in executive session, instead of "being bashed on television."
All too often, she said, Selectmen and members of other boards and commissions will simply address rumors they've heard with sweeping statements about town employees.
"When you say, 'town hall employees,' there's like five of us here," stated Stevens, who told the board that it is damaging to the reputations of those employees when they make blanket statements, especially when based on anonymous comments that can't be responded to.
"I feel like some of that is directed pointedly at me," said Selectman Michael Murphy, who acknowledged he has made general statements about town employees, but welcomes the idea of a formal policy. "I don't have any objection to a complaint form."
Stevens has provided Selectmen members with examples of complaint forms and policy language from other towns and cities in Massachusetts, and with the board's blessing, will now begin drafting a local variation for them to review at their next meeting.
In other town business:
• The Selectmen agreed Monday to hold off a little longer before reopening Town Hall to the public. Town Manager Kelli Robbins said currently, residents currently can call about anything they are unable to do online, and a staff member will meet them outside to assist them.
"I do think it's better to be safe than sorry," said Selectman Gordon Hubbard. "As more people get vaccinated, over the next month or so, we may want to reconsider."
• Library Director Sheila Parks agreed with this, adding that Lanesborough residents have been asking a lot of questions of library staff and could probably use more information about how and when town buildings can be accessed.
• A date of March 16 has been set for a virtual public forum with Spectrum for Lanesborough residents to ask questions of the cable and internet provider. Selectman Michael Murphy will host and moderate the forum, held via Zoom at 6 p.m.
Due to limited time, Murphy encourages residents to submit comments in advance, via a page on the town website.
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