Commission to present charter changes

PROSPECT — For the first time in 16 years, officials have crafted a list of potential revisions to the town charter.

The Charter Revision Commission will present these changes at a public hearing May 12 at 7 p.m. at Town Hall.

This is the first time the town has proposed charter changes since 2000. Before that, a commission last reviewed the charter in 1987.

The commission has proposed numerous changes, many of which correct typos or word changes and do not affect the meaning of the regulations laid out in the charter. However, there are some proposed changes that will impact the way the town operates in the future.

The most significant of these changes is the proposal to make the town clerk, town treasurer, and tax collector appointed positions rather than elected positions. The positions would be appointed by the mayor with the consent of the Town Council.

“This change is not related to anyone’s performance. Rather, the commission wants to put in place a process to obtain, in the future, the best qualified person for the job; and a process which utilizes job descriptions, job performance evaluations and the ability to be removed for cause,” Charter Revision Commission Chairman Glenn Gruber said.

The commission is also proposing a change that would allow the mayor to cast a vote on the Town Council in one very specific circumstance.

The revision would allow the mayor to cast a vote to elect the chairman of the Town Council only if the vote remains a tie after three votes.

This situation would occur if the council, which typically has nine members, is missing a member, Gruber said. Although it may sound like an unlikely situation, it has occurred twice in the past few years, he said.

“They can spend all night voting and it ends up being 4 to 4. The Town Council asked us for this as a means of being able to break a tie,” Gruber said.

The proposed changes also include: allowing the Town Council to establish a compensation plan for all town employees not covered by collective bargaining agreements; limiting the number of consecutive annual audits performed by the same accountant or same firm to five; and mandating that all boards, commissions and the Town Council post their activities on the town webpage.

“All of [the proposed changes] together will create a very positive impact for the town,” Gruber said.

This public hearing will mark the last time that the commission will solicit information from the public before passing the proposed changes on to the council, Gruber said. The council will host its own public hearing and choose which questions to move to a vote. Those questions will appear on the ballot during the presidential election on Nov. 8.

Gruber urged residents to come out and voice their opinions on the proposed changes at the public hearing.

“Please get involved,” Gruber said. “Please read the meeting minutes on the town website and take a look at the revised charter document we have created.”

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