Applicants Sought For Finance Committee and Charter Review Commission


Photo: Blue Diamond Gallery

Applicant Pools for Nonvoting Members of Finance Committee and Charter Commission Deemed Insufficient

Report on the Meeting of the Governance, Operations, and Legislation Committee, February 22, 2024

This meeting was held over Zoom and was recorded. It can be viewed here. 

Ana Devlin Gauthier (District 5, Chair), Pat DeAngelis and Lynn Grieseemer (District 2), and George Ryan (District 3). Absent: Ndifreke Ette (District 1)

Staff: Athena O’Keeffe (Clerk of the Council)

Not Enough Applicants for Open Position on the Finance Committee
With Bob Hegner’s election to the Town Council, a vacancy was created for a nonvoting member on the Finance Committee. The vacancy was posted on the town bulletin board on February 9. As of this meeting of the Governance, Organization, and Legislation Committee (GOL) there were only two applications submitted. Lynn Griesemer moved that the pool of applicants was sufficient to hold interviews, saying that GOL will continue to accept applications until March 2. There was no second to her motion, so it failed.

The bulletin board notice states:

The Town Council is filling a vacancy for a non-voting resident member on the Finance Committee and is currently seeking applications. For a term beginning immediately upon appointment and ending June 30, 2025.

The Finance Committee is a standing committee of the Town Council which advises the Council on all financial matters.   It consists of five councilors as voting members and three non-voting residents.  Selection of resident members is based on relevant experience, skills, and policy knowledge, with an emphasis on municipal and public finance.  

For more information on the Finance Committee:

If you are interested in volunteering to serve, please fill out a Community Activity Form at:

GOL Delays Selection of Charter Review Commission Due to Insufficient Applicant Pool
As of this meeting, there were 11 applicants for the nine-member committee that will review the town charter this year. According to the charter, this review is required in every year ending in 4 (i.e., every decade). Although, GOL members agreed that there was not the necessary diversity in the pool, they discussed the selection criteria for the committee.

GOL chair Ana Devlin Gauthier prepared a memo listing criteria for selection that had been suggested by councilors. Members of GOL emphasized that the committee must have demographic diversity in age, skills, occupation, length of residency, and housing status. They also felt that some members should have a familiarity with the charter and charter process and some should have served on town boards or committees.  It was agreed that all districts in town be represented on the committee.

The listing for the Charter Review Commission states:

The Town Council is now accepting applications for residents who wish to serve on the 2024 Charter Review Committee.  

The 2024 Charter Review Committee is a multiple-member body appointed by the Town Council in accordance with Charter section 9.6: Periodic Review of Charter, which states:

The Town Council shall provide, in every year ending in a 4, for a review of the Charter by a special committee to be established by Town Council. All members of the committee shall be voters not holding elective office when appointed. The committee shall file a report within 1 year recommending any changes to the Charter which it deems necessary or desirable, unless an extension is authorized by vote of the Town Council. The Town Council shall vote upon the recommendations in the report within 90 days of receipt of the committee’s recommendations. Action on all proposed charter changes shall be governed by Section 9.1 of this Charter.

The 2024 Charter Review Committee will be composed of nine voting members who must be registered voters in Amherst. The membership shall reflect the diversity of the Town of Amherst population. The term of service is to conclude upon presentation of a final report to the Town Council.

For more information on the 2024 Charter Review Committee see the Committee Charge.

Residents interested in volunteering to serve, should  fill out a Community Activity Form.  Questions should be directed to the Clerk of the Town Council,  Athena O’Keeffe at 

The references cited above are from the Amherst Home Rule Charte

Although the listing states that applicants need to be registered to vote in Amherst, O’Keeffe said that this is not a requirement to serve on other town boards and committees.

Councilor Liaisons Recommended for 10 Committees
All town committees were asked whether they wanted a liaison from the Town Council. Fifteen committees expressed an interest in having a liaison. The GOL made recommendations for 10 of them, realizing that there may not be enough interest from the council to fulfill all of these positions.

GOL ranked the committees according to how useful liaisons would be to the council and the committee. The following committees were recommended to receive council liaisons:

Amherst Municipal Affordable Housing Trust, Council on Aging, Community Preservation Act Committee, Community Safety and Social Justice Committee, Energy and Climate Action Committee, Transportation Advisory Committee, Board of Health, Conservation Committee, Human Rights Commission, and Disability Access Advisory Committee.

The goal of liaisons is to promote communication between a committee and the council. They are to answer questions that the committee may have of the council and to bring forth relevant committee decisions and discussions in their reports at a council meeting. They are not to participate in discussions or offer public comment in their role as liaison.

Pat DeAngelis stated, “There have been problems in the past with councilors not following the rules. For instance, Ellisha Walker (at large) may want to become the liaison for CSSJC (Community Safety and Social Justice Committee). That I would find problematic, because I don’t think she could stay outside. And we have that happening with Pam Rooney on Planning. And it’s unfair to every other councilor, because it gives somebody who is not following the guidelines an advantage that other councilors don’t have, because they’re engaging in discussion with the committee.”

Devlin Gauthier replied, “My plan is to include [with the list of committees] a memo that outlines the role of a liaison. Ultimately, councilors are bound by the rules of procedure, and if we can’t follow a rule of procedure, we need to figure out what we’re going to do about that. Since rules of procedure are not on the agenda, I believe folks, if they see it happening, need to reach out to another councilor and say, ‘Hey just a reminder…’” Griesemer said she would like to discourage councilors from being a liaison on committees that they are very interested in or who have strong opinions about issues likely to be discussed by the given committee, since they may occasionally want to give public comment at meetings. 

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