Charter changes heading to the ballot

PROSPECT — The voters will ultimately decide come November whether they want their town clerk, town treasurer and tax collector appointed or elected.

The Town Council on Tuesday approved the Charter Revision Commission’s final report for recommended changes and the five questions that will appear on the ballot on Election Day.

Four of the questions deal with more significant changes: making the town clerk, town treasurer and tax collector appointed rather than elected positions, revising financial procedures, changing residency requirements for employees, and revising the conflict of interest definition. The fifth question rounds up the smaller changes into one question and simply asks if all the other changes should be made.

Voters will be able to vote yes or no on all five of the questions.

The process that led to these questions began last fall when the council formed the Charter Revision Commission to review the Town Charter for potential revisions. It marked the first time Prospect formed such a commission since 2000. The commission proposed roughly two dozen changes to the Charter in its final report.

The most debated change was the proposal to make the three town positions appointed rather than elected.

Although not every member of the council agrees with the change, Town Council Chairman Tom Galvin said the council feels it’s important to let the public decide.

“There was a strong request from the Charter Revision Commission itself that really felt that the public had a right to make that determination rather than us making it for them. So, as individuals not everyone up here would have agreed it was a good idea, everyone did agree that it was something that the public should decide,” Galvin said.

A copy of the questions that will be on the ballot will be sent to Secretary of the State Denise Merrill for review.

“The secretary of state, as part of their role with the Elections Commission, is responsible for reviewing anything that goes on during Election Day,” Galvin said. “The secretary of state looks at it, not to see if it is legal or if it is a good question, but to see whether it is phrased properly and the voter is being asked a clear question.”

Galvin pointed out that there will be 12 people running for six offices on the ballot in addition to the five charter revision questions.

“They want to make sure that it all fits on the ballot,” Galvin said.

In addition, the public will be provided with explanatory text for each question that will lay out what impact the proposed change will have.

The proposed explanatory texts will be presented to the council on Aug. 23. Galvin said residents will be able to find information at Town Hall and in the various publications that serve the town.

Galvin recommended people be diligent in learning about what the proposed changes are before the election.

“The Charter has not been revised in 17 years and has only been revised once in the last 30. We think people should be aware of it before they get into the voting booth. So they should stay tuned for more details and avail themselves to as much knowledge as they can because it is their town,” Galvin said.