SACC Will Push For a Fall Vote on Proposed Charter Changes
Wilson, committee ready to recommend shift from Town Meeting to Town Council form of government.
According to Chairman Scott Wilson, the Special Act Charter Committee has decided to present proposed changes to the current form of government to voters at the October Special Town Meeting.
"The committee has decided to keep it alive and to focus on the Town Council form of government," said Wilson.
Aug. 5 is the deadline to get the proposal on the October Special Town Meeting Warrant.The committee plans to invite Town Counsel Charles Zaroulis and Town Manager Richard Montuori to its meeting tonight (July 6) at 7 p.m. to determine the legality of the language in the document.
On July 12 at 6 p.m., the committee will invite selectmen to a working session to discuss line by line revisions to the draft charter, before the selectmen's meeting.
Wilson stated that the committee does not need the selectmen's approval to put its proposal up to a vote on the town warrant in October.
The three forms of government that have been discussed are the open town meeting, which Tewksbury already has, representative town meeting and town council. Representative town meeting consists of a pre-designated number of elected community members who vote on issues in town.
The town council format supports more meetings with a smaller number of people and far less citizen participation. Committee member Richard O'Neil stated approximately seven council members would be elected to the council, which would replace the Board of Selectmen.
The committee has presented two drafts, one calls for changes to town charter while keeping the Open Town Meeting and the other plan is adopting a Town Council form of government.
Most of the committee members are comfortable with changing to a town council form of government and to allow voters a chance to decide in October if they want to make the change, said Wilson.
If the voters reject the town council at the Special Town Meeting in October, the committee could go back to the other proposal of keeping the open town meeting with less drastic changes to the charter.
Wilson stated that the committee is looking for a plan for the next 10 years and likes the model that includes election of the other boards. The traditional town council form of government would call for councilors to appoint those boards. The committee has been working to incorporate elected boards into a Town Council structure in a so-called "Hybrid Town Council" model.
Attached to this story are printable PDF copies of the Town Council Charter Draft, the Town Meeting Charter Draft and the SACC's public presentation from last month.