Selectmen usher in remote attendance for Rochester boards

Feb 13, 2018

The members of Rochester's Board of Selectman have officially signed off on a remote attendance policy for elected board meetings.

Selectman Woody Hartley said the agreement was drafted by Rochester's Town Counsel Blair Bailey; the selectmen are the first to approve it.

Remote attendance, where board members can phone in to the meeting or use a video-calling application such as Skype to attend a meeting, had previously not been an option in town.

Board of Selectmen Chair Brad Morse added that the board had been considering remote access for quite some time before officially putting it through.

"There's nothing bad about it," Hartley said. "It's a good idea for everyone."

Nearby towns like Wareham and Marion have already implemented a remote attendance policy. Members of Marion's Planning Board, hoping to put remote attendance into use, offered to be "trial guinea pigs" for a year, after which the Marion Board of Selectmen would decide whether to continue with remote attendance or banish it.

Some members of the Board of Selectmen were concerned, stating that it might give members of elected boards an excuse to phone into meetings regularly. Nevertheless, the trial was successful, and Marion officially allowed remote attendance for all boards in April 2017.