Town study group should be praised for for diligent work
The Bethany Town Government Study Committee has made five recommendations to the Board of Selectmen about ways to enhance the running of the town. One of those recommendations was to compensate the first selectman as full time.
The role of the first selectman has grown exponentially over the last five years. There are responsibilities mandated by the state, meetings that must be attended during the day, and obligations to the people of Bethany. As an example, it is a boon and a benefit to Bethany when the first selectman is actively involved in regional meetings with surrounding towns.
In order to run the town well, and be as fiscally responsible as possible, it is imperative that the first selectman seek out ways to cost share and ways to obtain grants for more services for the people of this town. For example, Gorski has just been elected to be the chairwoman of the South Central Connecticut Regional Council of Governments. This organization covers 15 of the surrounding towns. As a direct result of being actively involved in this Regional Council of Governments, this first selectwoman has been able to lobby for Bethany for grants and services not previously brought to the town. Almost $1 million in grants and services were provided to Bethany as a direct result of Gorski's lobbying efforts for Bethany.
In Bethany the first selectman is not only the top elected official, but also the chief executive officer, the chief fiscal officer, the chief of police, the risk manager, the purchasing agent and the personnel director. Issues facing municipalities have grown increasingly complex - from what is required by the federal government to what is required by the state government to what the people of the town of Bethany expect from their chief elected official.
While we appreciate Selectman Walter Briggs desire to be fiscally conservative and recommend that the town leaders position be slashed to that of a figurehead and hire a town manager to run the town, we can't help wondering if Briggs would have made this recommendation if the first selectman were a Republican. After all, he is the Republican Town Committee chairman.
The first selectman, by virtue of being the chief elected official, is ultimately responsible for the running of this town - and all that that entails.
Further, what matters is that the first selectman is a person who is elected by the people of Bethany to watch over Bethany, to ensure that Bethany is run well, that its employees are well taken care of and that those employees are taking care of Bethany by doing their jobs well; that any programs, grants and services available to Bethany are reviewed and pursued for Bethany; that the first selectman answers to the people of Bethany. The first selectwoman must be diligent in her efforts to bring services and opportunities to Bethany. It is a matter of acknowledging all that the first selectman now does.