PROSPECT — After months of discussion, the Town Council is poised to act on what potential Charter changes will go to the voters.
The council will vote at its Aug. 16 meeting on what recommended changes are put on the ballot in November.
A Charter Revision Commission was formed last fall to review the Charter and recommend possible changes. It marked the first time Prospect formed such a commission since 2000.
Officials and the public have debated potential changes since then, and the commission submitted its final recommendations to the council last week. The recommended changes range from minor language revisions to significant changes to town government.
The proposed change that has garnered the most attention is making the town clerk, town treasurer and tax collector appointed rather than elected positions.
Under the proposed change, the mayor would appoint the town clerk, town treasurer and tax collector with the consent — majority vote — of the council. Those appointed would be selected from candidates chosen by a search and review committee and serve for four-year terms, according to the proposed revised language.
Those in favor of the change contend it is not a reflection of the current people in office but rather to ensure the best qualified candidates hold the jobs in the future.
“We’re trying to make sure that the government of Prospect is as functional and as good as it needs to be in certain areas,” said Town Council Chairman Tom Galvin, who spoke in favor of the change during a special council meeting Monday night.
Those against the change argue the revision would take the power away from the voters to choose the people for the positions.
The council was urged Monday to let the proposal go to the voters, despite how they may feel about the potential change.
“It deserves to go to the voters. I’m a voter and I’d like to vote on it,” Paul Krisavage, a member of the Charter Revision Commission, told the council.
Members of the council said they are willing to send the matter to the voters.
“I have looked at it both ways. I’m willing to put it on as a question and let the voters decide,” council member Larry Fitzgerald said.
The commission’s recommended changes also include: allowing the 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; mandating that all boards, commissions and the council post their activities on the town webpage; and removing the requirement that people hired or appointed to a compensated position be a resident elector of Prospect.
Aside from Galvin’s comments on the issue of appointing the town clerk, town treasurer and tax collector, the council didn’t discuss the merits of the proposed changes at Monday’s meeting. Rather, the council spent the majority of the meeting reviewing the potential language for the questions that will be on the ballot. The council took no action and was scheduled to meet again Thursday, after press time, to continue the discussion.
After the council approves what proposed changes to move forward with next week, the questions that will appear on the ballot in November will be finalized. It’s likely the ballot will have about six questions on it, with major changes standing alone as questions and minor changes wrapped up in one question. Ultimately, the decision to make any changes will be made by the voters.
The commission’s final report is available online at www.townofprospect.org.