Tuneups for Towns

You go to the dentist twice a year for a checkup, usually not because you have a known problem but because you want to know if there is one you haven’t noticed. Some annual checkup is also probably done on your furnace, your car, and your dog. So why not the town? Is it sensible to wait until the newspapers or angry citizens tell you what you haven't done or have done badly? No, it is not. What is needed is a good, thorough once-over, top-to-bottom review of how things are done, to find what needs to be replaced, what needs more attention, what ought to be watched next time. Most towns won’t need the municipal equivalent of gum surgery or a root canal, but if you did wouldn’t you want to know about it now?

This is not a test. This is not a device to punish others for their failings. This is merely a punch list of items town officials might use if they wanted to to check to see whether things in town are up to snuff law-wise. Some of the items are not the law; they are simply recommendations based on others’ bad experience. The list is not exhaustive either, so no one should feel complacent about satisfying every number. You don't have to stay in local government for long before you recognize there’s always something else to worry about next week. But it’s a beginning.

This page was last updated: 2014-08-12