PLYMOUTH - The Town Council has approved the final wording for three Charter Revision Commission proposals to put on the November ballot, plus an advisory question to see if people want the town to move to a town manager form of government.
Town Attorney Bill Hamzy said he reduced the commission’s recommendations to three questions because the ballot will have limited space this year, due to three slates of municipal candidates and the additional advisory question.
He said explanations for each question will be posted on the town website in advance and available in print at the polling station on Election Day to help people understand the issues.
Question 1 reads: “Shall the appointment of an Assessor and the requirement for the Council to maintain a journal be changed in accordance with Items 1 and 2 of the Final Report of the Charter Revision Commission and as approved by the Town Council?”
The change refers to removing charter language pertaining to having a Board of Assessors and a Council Journal, both of which no longer exist.
Question 2 reads: “Shall changes be made to the budget approval process so that the Council can approve a proposed budget with changes of not more than 3% in accordance with Item 3 of the Final Report of the Charter Revision Commission and as approved by the Town Council?”
The change would limit circumstances in which the town budget would be subject to referendum.
Currently, the charter allows up to two budget referendums each year. If the budget is rejected a second time the council is authorized to adopt a budget that is not more than three percent more or less than the current year budget. For the past three years the proposed budget has failed at referendum twice before the council ended up passing a final budget.
The change would allow the council to directly approve a budget that is not more than three percent more or less, without a referendum. If the proposed budget exceeds the three percent limit then it would go to one referendum. If it fails at referendum then the council could adopt a final budget as long as it was within the three percent up or down formula.
Question 3 reads: “Shall all boards and commissions be required to include ‘Public Comment on Agenda Items’ and ‘Public Comment on Non-Agenda Items’ on their agendas, shall the Town Council be required to have ‘Public Comment on Non-Agenda Items’ on all of its agendas and shall all boards or commissions be required to allow people to speak at meetings in accordance with Item 4 of the Final Report of the Charter Revision Commission and as approved by the Town Council?”
The change would allow town boards and commissions to include on their agendas public comment on agenda and non-agenda items, or in the case of the council on agenda and non-agenda items, and adopt a time limit for speakers so more people will be able to participate.
Mayor David Merchant has said it would not change anything the council does now but it may change how some of other boards or commissions handle public comment.
The advisory question reads: “Shall a Charter Revision Commission be established to consider a town manager form of government?”
Hamzy noted that there are many different forms of town government that include a town manager but the only way to move toward that is by changing the charter.
Commission Chairman Mark Malley has said that the commission is willing to do the work of revising the charter to accommodate having a town manager, but he wanted to see if voters were interested first before they took such an “astronomical job.”
Susan Corica can be reached at 860-973-1802 or firstname.lastname@example.org.