Vol. III No. 07 4/1/2022
Stockbridge operates with volunteers. Energetic and generous folks fill seats on our boards, commissions, and committees. We thank them, and when they ask for consultants to compete a task, we support them. However, there are actual guidelines for hiring a consultant — I looked it up.
- Be sure we need one
- Know exactly what we need one for
- Find someone who wants to solve our problem not peddle their solution — no one needs their million-dollar solution to our fifty-dollar problem
- Clearly articulate our goals and their required deliverables
- Bottom line? A consultant cannot do his or her job until we do ours.
Our Board of Assessors, Conservation Commission, and Finance Committee make good use of consulting experts. Auditors, accountants, evaluators, engineers are hired to do a specific task, meet a specific requirement, or answer a specific question. Thereby, consultants are focused and enabled to work quickly and efficiently. But…in recent years, there was a dash to dial-a-consultant.
Two years and approaching $80,000 later, two consultants did nothing for the Planning Board, and a third appeared to suggest paving our tennis court, playground, and ballfield for parking. That is subject to approval, of course, but why suggest it when it does not seem in character with our village or our lifestyle.
Stockbridge signed a contract to pay $54,000 to another consultant to write a lake management plan when, sadly, it is unclear who has the power to manage the lake.
Stockbridge Bowl Stewardship Commission (SBSC) is working to inform the consultants of Town priorities, and Stockbridge Bowl Association (SBA) is moving ahead with its priorities. SBA is proceeding with herbicide testing and treatment, while the Town prefers dredging first. Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) decides whether both or only one can happen in the lake during the same year. If DEP has the final say — what did they say?
As SBA proceeds with herbicides, can anyone do anything else? Was SBA correct in a letter to DEP, that since SBA won the lawsuit, it is their call? (Letter reprinted: SU, January 1, 2022 issue)
Might we not answer these questions before we spend taxpayer money on a consultant to write a lake management plan?
There is a time and place for consultants. Consultants can contribute to a superior outcome. However, there is preparation necessary to get our money's worth. If asked for the money, perhaps our first question should be: are we ready for a consultant?
Photo: Lionel Delevingne