Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Charter Revision Workshop Draws Large Crowd

Most Common Council workshops draw a very sparse crowd, often consisting solely of a reporter and a City Hall junky. Thus, it was quite a surprise to see the Council Chambers nearly full Monday night, for a 30 minute workshop on the draft report of the Charter Revision Commission.

The Charter Revision Commission has met for the past two months to consider 29 possible changes to the City Charter. The changes discussed in the report include everything from the mayor's salary to the requirements for meeting notices. The full draft is available HERE.

The Commission recommended 14 changes to the charter (see below for full list, and the full report for a summary of the discussions on each), but it was the proposed elimination of the office of Treasurer that brought out the large crowd. The City Treasurer is currently elected every 2 years, and receives an annual stipend of about $4,000. Several speakers urged the Council to retain the office of Treasurer, in order to provide elected oversight of city finances, they called it an important part of our democratic checks and balances.

Councilman Serra told the crowd that the Democratic Caucus would be meeting next week to consider the report and possible changes to the Charter. The Council will be holding another Charter workshop on August 14th, and will vote at their September 2nd meeting on whether to put changes to the Charter on the ballot in November. Both of those Council meetings will include opportunities for public comment.

Go below the jump break to see list of recommendations from the Charter Revision Commission.

1. Removing Treasurer as an elected official and appointing the Finance Director as Treasurer with no additional compensation.
Chapter II, Section 2 Chapter IV, Section 4
2. Changing the Mayor’s Term to four years.
Chapter I, Section 4 Chapter IV, Section 1
3. Adding the Mayor’s Compensation package to the Charter.
Chapter IV, Section 1
4. Changing the Common Council term to four years.
Chapter 1, Section 4 Chapter III, Section 1
5. Adding the Common Council’s stipend to the Charter.
Chapter III, Section 1
6. Removing Sheriffs from City officials.
Chapter II, Section 1
7. Changing the name of City Attorney to General Counsel
Chapter III, Section 7B Chapter IV, Section 8
8. Removing the Town Clerk consulting with General Counsel under Initiative and only making the General Counsel responsible.
Chapter III, Section 7 B
9. Raising the bond limit to $1,000,000 without referendum.
Chapter IX, Section 2
10. Renaming the Mayor’s Administrative Assistant to Chief of Staff.
Chapter II, Section 3 Chapter IV, Section 1 Chapter X, Sections 1 and 3
11. Amending Permanent Vacancy in the Office of the Mayor to account for a four-year term.
Chapter III, Section 8E
12. Authority of the Common Council to set salaries and stipends for elected officials
Chapter III, Section 4
13. Approving four year terms for all elected officials, including changes to the Mayor, Common Council, Board of Assessment Appeals, and Registrars of Voters.
Chapter II, Section 1 Chapter II, Section 4
14. Maintaining staggered terms for Board of Education and Planning and Zoning.
15. Amending Biennial Election where appropriate.
Chapter II, Section 4 Chapter VI, Section 4
16. Amending the Board of Tax Review to Board of Assessment Appeals as it appears in the Statutes.
Chapter II, Section 2
17. Adding a section to the Charter for odd-year Municipal Elections that the polling places will be the same as for referenda, with three polling places located at Moody School, Municipal Building (City Hall) and South Fire District.
Chapter II, Section 4

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