Are 35 Town Government Committees, Too Many?

Committees/boards are a necessary evil for most organizations as a way to focus efforts and get things done. Local governments have a lot of committees/boards, for example the Town of Amhers, NY (population 122,000) has 35 of them. The Town of Tonawanda, NY (population 73,500) has 28 committees/boards. I don’t know what the right number of committees are but having 35 and 28 seems a bit extreme.

A big part of the problem in operating government is a lack of focus and a lack of clarity on what issues are a priority. While every committee and board thinks their issue is most important you simply cannot have 35 or 28 priorities and get anything of substance accomplished.

The town of Amherst to their credit is investigating whether the number of their committees can be reduced by combining or consolidating them. The Amherst Government Study Committee has put forth a recommendation that would reduce the number of town committees to 31. While going from 35 committees to 31 is not a huge step forward it is a start.

The list of Committees, Commissions and Boards in the town of Amherst are:

1) 9/11 Commemoration Committee
2) Amherst Committee on Disabilities
3) Amherst Community Diversity Commission
4) Amherst Conservation Advisory Council
5) Amherst Industrial Development Agency
6) Amherst State Park Committee
7) Amherst Veterans Committee
8) Arts and Culture in Public Places Board
9) Board of Assessment Review
10) Board of Electrician Examiners
11) Board of Ethics
12) Board of Plumbing and Drainage Examiners
13) Citizens Financial Advisory Committee
14) Code Commission
15) Employee Suggestion Program Merit Award Board
16) Employee Suggestion Review Committee
17) Energy Conservation Citizens Advisory Committee
18) Freedom of Information Board
19) Glen Park Joint Board
20) Government Study Committee
21) Historic Preservation Commission
22) Industrial and Commercial Incentive Board
23) Information Technology Advisory Committee
24) Library Board of Trustees
25) Minority & Women Owned Business In Amherst
26) Planning Board
27) Recreation Commission
28) Recycling and Waste Committee
29) Senior Services Advisory Board
30) Supervisor’s Citizen Advisory Committee
31) Town Board
32) Traffic Safety Board
33) War of 1812 Commemoration Committee
34) Youth Board
35) Zoning Board of Appeals

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