Gardiner Government 101
By Patty Gandin
Election season is a good time for a brief overview of our town government. There are three governing Boards in Gardiner—one elected (the Town Board), and two whose volunteer members the Town Board appoints (the Zoning Board of Appeals, or ZBA, and the Planning Board).
The Town Board’s five elected members each serve a two-year term. The Town Supervisor is a member of the Town Board, and also Chief Fiscal Officer and Chief Executive Officer. The Supervisor runs Town Board meetings, compiles the annual operating budget and oversees accounting and payroll functions. When the Board votes on issues though, the Supervisor is on equal footing with other members and has one vote. Many of our elected and appointed officials, including the Town Supervisor, also have “day jobs,” an amazing fact, considering the amount of work they do for the town.
The Town Board also supervises the operations of the Highway Department, the Building Department, the Assessor, Justice Court, Parks and Recreation, and the Transfer Station.
Town Clerk (Michele Mosher) and Highway Superintendent (Brian Stiscia), our only other elected officials, except for two Town Justices, have been running uncontested for long enough that we might well forget that they are elected.
As most of us know, the Building Inspector is the one who gives us a building permit for that new garage, or that new house we’ve just had plans drawn up for, but also serves as the Code Enforcement Officer, making sure that whatever gets built conforms to the town Zoning Code.
The Zoning Board of Appeals steps in when someone’s building plans do not conform. It’s the ZBA, for example, that decides whether to give you a variance to build that garage a few feet closer to your property line than the code says it should be.
The Planning Board is more, “big picture,” responsible for overseeing larger development projects, and issuing site plan approval and special use permits if appropriate. It is a complex and sometimes touchy process: developers present detailed plans of proposed projects; input is sought from Gardiner residents; and the Planning Board reviews potential impacts on the environment, traffic and other aspects of community character.
Finally, we have a Library Board, appointed by the Town Board, a Board of Ethics, and an Environmental Conservation Commission.