2009-04-09 / Editorial

Possible amendments to the town charter


Every 10 years or so we are required to review our Town Charter. A committee has been appointed to determine if anything in our charter needs to be changed. That committee will soon make its recommendations to the Town Council.

Here are a couple of small charter amendments offered for consideration:

• Four-year Town Council terms. We presently hold council elections every two years. All five positions are open to election at the same time.

Our Town Council must deal with a wide range of issues. Given that it takes a new council member about one year to figure out how the town operates, it would seem that the council would be able to accomplish more if we had four-year terms instead of two.

We should also consider staggering the elections, so that three council positions are decided in one election, then the other two in an election held two years later. Cycling the council elections would help provide continuity.

Four-year council terms make sense, especially when you consider that our board and commission appointees serve three years. Voters would retain the ability of recall if a council member turned rogue.

• Town Water & Sewer Commission. We ask a lot of our Town Council. It addition to their other duties, the council members serve on the Board of Water & Sewer Commissioners which meets monthly.

It has been suggested that a separate water commission might be more effective.

Such a water commission could operate in a fashion similar to the Harbor Commission. A panel of five to seven members could be appointed and should include representatives selected from residential and commercial water users. There should also be a council liaison.

It could be argued that as with the Harbor Commission, an appointed Water & Sewer Commission would have more time to devote to the issues at hand.

Of course, the Town Council would provide the ultimate oversight of the Water & Sewer Commission, including approval of its budget and capital spending.

— Jeff McDonough

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