The Local Governing Body

To the Editor:

For many years an employment agreement has become an increasingly common fact of life for local government managers. While all the right-to-terminate the services of the manager-at-will does in fact exist, the agreement provides at the very least, a framework for administrator-governing-body relations. If one were to check, members of ICMA Report, having such agreements with their governing bodies are many:

* Attracts better qualified candidates.

* Allows more amicable relations.

* Limits personality clashes.

* Allows for reasonable transition periods.

Basically a "resolution of understanding" enacted by the elected governing body.

An employment agreement is a great help in clarifying expectations of the elected body and the new administrator. It could also be of great help when it comes time to evaluate.

However, it should be stated, different roles belong to the governing body and the manager. The manager does not develop or own policy by law. The duty of policy belongs to those elected only, no matter what type of policy or procedure to include any given ordinance. The two have distinctly different jobs. A manager is to work within the already established policy and cannot change policy based on public comment.

If the public does not like what policy or an ordinance permits, then the select board is the place to go and get it changed.

Understand your elected officials are your governing officials. Oftentimes the governing body will disagree with conclusions of others; but while it might appear as contrary, it is their right while in office, based on the written information they have - whether legal principles, statues both state, federal and codes.

Forward thinking of voters can make a big change come March elections!

The role of a lawyer in local government can be that of an advocate making selective points, but even lawyers who have done their job can only offer his or her opinion. The opinion is only a window of interpretation of a given section of law, that could well differ from another or for that matter, from that, of a judge.

Remember - never allow yourself to be bullied by threats of litigation, unconstitutional taking and other bluster and bailiwick, which may come your way. You're elected to do your job and to do it right.

Nancy Cohen

St. Johnsbury, Vt.

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