2009-04-30 / Editorial

Let's talk about council terms, water board


On Monday, the committee charged with reviewing the Jamestown town charter will present its findings to the Town Council. Monday would also be a good time to talk about making two important changes to the town charter.

The first change concerns the town council elections. Currently, we elect the entire council — all five members — every two years. Let's consider making the council terms four years instead of two.

Then, let's stagger the council election somewhat similar to the way we elect our School Committee. We could alternate the council elections, with three members elected this November and then two members elected in 2011.

Four-year terms, combined with the staggered elections, would provide more continuity to the council terms. New council members currently spend about one year learning how the town works and then they must decide whether to run for re-election. Every two years we can have five brand new people sitting on the council

There is no real down-side to making the council four-year term change. If we find that as a community we do not care for the four-year terms, we can always revert to the two-year terms. Let's also give the voters the ability of recall.

The second change to the town charter would be to establish a Town Water & Sewer Commission. The water commission could operate much like the Harbor Commission. The council would appoint a panel of five to seven people to oversee the water and sewer operations. There should also be a council liaison.

Like the harbor commission, the town council would provide the final oversight of the water & sewer commission, including approval of its budget and capital spending.

No matter whether you agree or disagree with these ideas, please attend Monday's council meeting to talk about them. After all, we only take a look at our town charter once every 10 years.

— Jeff McDonough

Return to top