Marshfield: Charter Review Committee Proposing Changes to Town Government

After nearly two years of work, the Marshfield Charter Review Committee is nearing the finish line.

Bill Bowers, the Chair of the committee, said through research and interviews, the committee reached the conclusion that Marshfield government is too decentralized.

The 11-person committee is proposing to create a Town Manager position and increase the Board of Selectmen from three to five members.

“We’re not really looking to reinvent the wheel. What we looked at is surrounding communities that are highly-rated that operate with a larger board of selectmen,” said Bowers. “There’s more diversity in that way, plus we’re a larger town now. What could be handled by three selectmen in the past is really more than they can bite off at this point.”

Marshfield currently has what Bowers calls is a weak Town Administrator position.

“The role has very little teeth to it,” he said. “Therefore there is no real centralization, there is no one at the top actually directing things.”

With the proposed change to Town Manager, department heads would be appointed and town employees would report to the Town Manager, who would also be the chief procurement officer for the town.

As part of the centralization, the only elected boards in town would be the Board of Selectmen, Planning Board, Veterans Memorial Trustees, School Committee, Town Moderator, Housing Authority, and the Board of Health.

The Town Clerk and Board of Assessors would become appointed positions. There would no longer be a Board of Public works, though the Department of Public Works would remain intact.

“Marshfield has tended to operate in silos, there’s been a lack of communication, a lack of coordinated direction,” said Bowers. “By eliminating that particular board, we’re now consolidating with the Board of Selectmen. We’re not changing the structure, other than putting it all under one roof.”

Another part of that article would create the position of Finance Director in town.

As for the next steps, the committee will be gathering feedback from the public before they submit the changes at a special town meeting.

The public can weigh in at forums on Thursday, October 12 at the Martinson Elementary School at 7 p.m., on Tuesday, October 24 at the Senior Center at 3:30 p.m., and on Thursday, October 26 at Saint Ann’s Parish at 7 p.m.

Members from the committee can be heard on WATD on Saturday, October 7 from 8 to 10 a.m. as part of the McNamara on Money program.

In January, a special town meeting would likely be held for the town to approve or deny the changes to the Charter. The state has to approve the changes. If approved, the changes would be voted on as a town referendum in the spring of 2018.

“The idea is to create a more centralized, vertical form of government that will allow for better communication and a unified direction,” said Bowers.

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About Lenny Rowe

Lenny Rowe is one of the newest additions to the WATD News team. He grew up in Pembroke and was an intern at WATD in 2012. A 2016 graduate from Suffolk University, Lenny left the City of Boston and now lives in Rockland. Lenny has covered both news and sports, from the trial of James "Whitey" Bulger to the Boston Bruins at TD Garden. Outside of WATD, Lenny covers high school sports for The Boston Globe. Lenny can be reached at