Charter Revision Commission Approves Town Council Charter Edit
A request from the Town Council for a revision to the proposed town charter that would allow for a higher threshold for the amount of money the town can appropriate without a referendum was approved by the Charter Revision Commission (CRC). The council will now vote to approve or reject the proposed charter at a future meeting.
At a meeting on March 1, the town council asked the CRC to reconsider raising the amount of money the town can appropriate without a referendum. Under the current charter, the town may appropriate up to $300,000 without a referendum. When the council formed the CRC back in the summer of 2022 it asked the CRC to consider raising that number, which the commission did by proposing a raise to a $500,000 limit.
However, at the March 1 town council meeting, council member Dennis Donovan suggested further raising that number beyond what the CRC had recommended.
Donovan cited the increasing costs of items in the current economy and argued that $500,000 still might be too low for some of the projects the town may consider spending money on. The council agreed to ask for a raise to a $700,000 limit.
At a town council meeting on March 15, Town Manager Karl Kilduff reported that the CRC had met to consider the request and agreed with the council’s ask.
Kilduff told the council that In April, the CRC will file a finalized charter proposal with the town. At that point the town council will then vote to either approve or reject the entire proposed charter changes. Kilduff said there is no more time for revisions and that the council will be accepting or rejecting the entire proposed charter revisions.
Assuming the council approves the final proposed changes, the town would have 15 months to gather public input on the proposed changes. However, any proposed changes to the charter will likely be on the ballot as part of the 2023 municipal elections. The council will officially choose the date for the public vote in June of this year.
Assuming the target date is the November election, the council will approve the ballot questions in August.
The charter requires the town to appoint a CRC to review the document no less than every five years, but given the large change in government structure that the town underwent, it was suggested by other towns’ town managers that Clinton appoint a new CRC sooner than that to work out any issues that council members may have noticed.
The last time the town appointed a CRC was in 2018 when a major charter revision was proposed that changed the form of government from the board of selectman model to the current town manager-town council model. Citizens approved the proposed change in November 2018, and the new government went into effect in November 2019.
The Proposed Changes
The most significant change proposed by the CRC is the ability to hire a Town Manager for a term not to exceed five years instead of the current three-year maximum.
Besides raising the appropriation level, other proposed changes would allow the Town Manager to hire, dismiss, and advertise for town employees without the approval of the Town Council first.
A further proposed change to the charter would remove the requirement for the Town Council to appoint a search committee to fill the vacancies in town departments. The town manager would then have the ability to appoint or hire people for the roles.