What’s a Town Charter? Q & A and Proposals


What’s a Town Charter?

A Town Charter is a document similar to the US Constitution which dictates the parameters of how a Town Government can operate. It explains how offices can be voted on, the powers of the mayor, Town Council, and various other offices.

What does “Open The Charter” mean?
This is a term used interchangeably with a Charter revision. Just as there can be a Constitutional Convention held to propose amendments to the US Constitution, a Charter Revision Committee can be formed to propose changes to the Wolcott Town Charter. Every five years the Town Council must

    consider

whether or not changes should be made to the Charter. The Town Council did this on January 20th, 2009.

How Can a Charter Revision Commission be formed?

First, the Town Council must vote to open a Charter Revision Commission. The present Charter requires that a supermajority of 6 Council members vote to form a Charter Revision Commission. On January 20th, 2009 only 5 Councilmen voted in favor of forming such a Commission.

When was the last Charter Commission held?
In 2004, a Charter Revision Commission was formed after an unnaffiliated mayor was elected. No state law or provision in the old Charter had any provision in case an unnaffiliated mayor left office in the middle of their term. This was fixed in that year.

Can a Revision Commission change anything in the Charter?
Yes.
While a Commission might be established for a specific purpose, as in 2004, its possible that such a Commission could decide to revise other sections of the Charter as well. This is the same reason why there has yet to ever be a Constitutional Convention on the federal level.

What kinds of Changes are candidates proposing?

Below is a list of candidates and any proposals they have publicly suggested. Some of the candidates have simply suggested the idea be brought up, but in the opinion of the Whisper, the Charter would need to be revised in order to incorporate the ideas: (coming soon!)

George Babcock (Mayoral candidate) – Allow annual budget to go to referendum
Tom Dunn (Mayoral Candidate) – Look at ways to save more money
Mike Perrone (Town Council Candidate) – Have staggard terms for elected officials

(more to come. This article is incomplete)

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