Editorial: Communication

With televised meetings of the Board of Selectmen, Board of Finance and Board of Education readily available on the town’s website, Wiltonians have a great opportunity to keep up with what’s going on in town government.

Town officials are to be commended for providing this transparent service.

However, the public would be even better served if documents being discussed at the meetings were more accessible to those in the audience or viewing at home. This is already happening at the Board of Education meetings, but not so much at Board of Selectmen and Board of Finance meetings.

One solution is to have hard copies of information available as handouts to those in attendance.

Better still, since attendance tends to be sparse at many meetings, it would be helpful if documents could also be projected on a screen or as a Power Point projection so people watching the meetings at home could better keep track of the discussions and fully understand the issues being voted on. This is particularly true when financial information is being discussed.

It’s difficult to follow what’s happening at a meeting with only a partial explanation of things. The public should not have to ask for documents following a meeting in order to figure out what went on. Board and commission minutes, recapping the discussion and votes taken at meetings are one way to find out what goes on. But to be fully effective, those minutes need to include details, and be more than a mere recording of votes.

A review of the most recent minutes of the Board of Selectmen’s meeting indicates several documents are attached. Presumably, they may be viewed at the town clerk’s office. Few people have the time, or are so inclined, to visit town hall during business hours to review documents. It would be helpful to include those documents with the minutes as they are posted on the town website.

With a new year — and budget season — coming up, perhaps it’s time for boards to review how they present information at public meetings. As author James Humes once said, “The art of communication is the language of leadership.”