Charter revision lacks public participation

PROSPECT — After four meetings, the Charter Revision Commission is only missing as one thing: public participation.

The Charter Revision Commission formed in October with the mission to look over the town’s current charter and recommend any changes to the Town Council.

Any changes the council feels should be made will ultimately be put to a vote in November.

As part of the process the commission is meeting with the heads of the all the town departments and trying to get input from the public.

“We are learning a lot of things from interviewing the departments themselves,” Town Council Chairman and Charter Revision Commission member Tom Galvin said.

Commission chairman Glenn Gruber echoed Galvin’s comments.

“We’ve had quite a bit of success with participation from the mayor, the Town Council and the town clerk.”

However, both Galvin and Gruber have one serious concern about the process.

“We are not getting any input from public, though,” Galvin said.

Galvin said the commission held a public hearing in November and barely any members of the public showed attended. The commission also allows residents to speak during the regular meetings, as well. But almost no one has taken advantage of that, Galvin said.

Gruber said the commission has tried getting the attention of the public, but to no avail.

“No matter how we advertise, people don’t show up. I think they should and would, but we are struggling with that,” Gruber said.

Gruber said the town charter and the minutes from the commission’s meetings are on the town’s website if residents wanted to see what the commission has been discussing.

Gruber encouraged residents who can’t make meeting to submit questions or concerns to Town Hall and it will be sent to the commission.

“Any way we get it, verbally, hardcopy, electronically, would be appreciated,” Gruber said.

The commission is scheduled to meet twice a month through May. The next meeting is scheduled for Jan. 14 at the Prospect Senior Center.

After May, any proposed changes will go to a public hearing.

Galvin said one of the possible changes the commission is looking at is extending the mayor’s term in office from two years to four years.

“That’s the kind of thing we’d like people to tell us what they’d like to see in the charter,” Galvin said.

Galvin encouraged residents to come voice their opinions at the meetings because the charter is something that will have a direct effect on them.

“This is really their charter. The last time we made changes was 15 years ago. The changes we may end up voting on may be the playbook that the town will be following for next 15 years,” Galvin said.

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