A spokesman for the Massachusetts Municipal Association told a gathering of Island selectmen and town administrators Friday that reform is needed for the state public records law — but the current bill to overhaul the law is flawed.

“We were surprised by the bill,” said John Robertson, legislative director for the MMA. “We thought there were a lot of things that were not workable and were not fair to local government.”

Meeting was attended by representatives from each Island town. — Mark Lovewell

John Ostroff, a Natick selectman and vice president of the Massachusetts Selectmen’s Association, agreed. “I’m an enormous proponent of open and transparent government,” he said. “What I have seen happen in my own community, a request for public records can take enormous amount of staff time that then gets shipped away from something else, and time is one of our most precious commodities. Without some protection for cities and towns, we will end up with a bill that is really tilted too far in one direction.”

The comments came during a meeting hosted by the All-Island selectmen’s association at the Strand Theatre Friday afternoon. About 20 people attended and all six towns were represented, either by their selectmen or town administrators.

The agenda covered a wide array of topics, including the state budget, tourism, room tax revenue and services the MMA provides to cities and towns. And while not previously planned, there was also discussion about a bill making its way through the state house to reform the Massachusetts public records law.

There is broad support for the bill on Beacon Hill, but the MMA, which has a powerful lobby, has opposed it and is currently working with lawmakers to craft compromise legislation.

“We support a balanced piece of legislation that gives cities and towns enough time to answer requests, that has some protection for them from harassment by different parties, and also, this is key, allows cities and towns to get enough fees to cover the cost of some of these requests,” Mr. Robertson told Vineyard officials.

But Jennifer Rand, town administrator for West Tisbury said that she had few concerns about the reform bill.

“I would urge that in your work if you continue to work to try and find amendments to the bill to work very hard to not soften the changes to the point that it has very little meat in it,” the town administrator said. “I think the changes are important, and I think what we do is public, and it is paid for by the public and the public has a right to it.”

She pointed out that the difficulty of finding records has diminished greatly in the digital age, and that time spent shouldn’t be a detriment or a problem when it comes to requests for public records.

“We get paid to be in the office every day; that’s what we’re there for,” Ms. Rand said. “So I think it’s important to maintain as much of the changes as possible, There are pieces that are problematic, the harassment issue is real we’ve had it too. I would just caution you to not destroy the changes, I think they are important.”

To date no Island selectmen have taken a formal position on the pending legislation.

The Tisbury selectmen are expected to discuss the bill at their regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday.