Town of Middleton
Board of Selectmen
Nathan Media Center
Fuller Meadow School, Middleton MA
November 9, 2010 - 7:30 p.m.
Present: Christine Lindberg - Chair, Kosta Prentakis, Nancy Jones, Brian Cresta, Timothy Houten
Other Officials Present: Ira Singer - Town Administrator
Discussion of Procedures, Timetable, and Laws Governing Amendments to a Town Charter
Lindberg began the discussion at approximately 8:25 p.m. Lindberg mentioned that she researched the MMA website, the DOR, as well as other Towns that have gone through the Town Charter process.
Singer informed that BOS that in the 1970’s the Town of Middleton took the time to go through the process and a Charter Commission was elected. The Town Charter is a fundamental document that needs to be well thought out and studied thoroughly and praised the members on the Charter Commission for their work.
Prentakis noted that with the Charter in place, there was an anticipated 25-50% increase in registered voters at that time and informed the BOS that Middleton has more than that at this point. Prentakis stated that the Charter is subject to ongoing changes as the demographics in the Town have changed since the 70’s. It is in the Town’s best interest to review the Town Charter to determine if the utilities are still there and if changes are needed, whether they are procedural in nature or substantive.
Singer mentioned that there have been no substantive changes to the Charter since he has been in Office. In order to make any substantive changes, the Town would need to elect a Commission and go through the process as if the Town were rewriting the Charter all over again.
Singer reviewed the procedural changes that were successfully identified and incorporated in the Town Charter since 1977. He gave an example of a substantive change inquiry to change the number of Selectmen from 5 back to 3 and it was explained that it would be a lengthy process of about 4-5 years to make those changes possible.
Prentakis gave an example in the Charter that may need to be looked at. Voting for the Town Election is on a Monday when voting day is otherwise held on Tuesdays.
Jones agreed that the Town Charter should be reviewed while there are still members that they can consult with who were involved at the time the Charter was established.
Houten asked what direction the BOS is looking to take on the matter.
Lindberg responded that the BOS should determine who should review the Charter and determine where there are inconsistencies and things that may need to be changed. At that point, if changes are needed, it would need to go to an Elected Charter Review Committee. Lindberg mentioned that the timetable should also be considered.
Singer read the names of the individual members on the Charter Commission Board and referred to the 8-9 significant points made back in 1976. 1. Open form of town meeting is retained; 2. Traditional practices of electing officials is retained; 3. Establish position of town administrator; 4. Provide increase number of selectmen from 3 to 5; 5. Established and define department of public works into one department; 6. Recall of elected officials if necessary; 7. Establish a formal capital improvement program; 8. Provide periodic provisions to the town Bylaws.
Singer went over the process and timetable for procedural changes to the Town Charter taking approximately 1-2 ½ years and an additional 2 years for any substantive changes from the time of submission.
Jones suggested the BOS specify a time for the Board to have a chance to read the Charter thoroughly and discuss their findings at an upcoming meeting.
The BOS agreed to all read the Charter thoroughly and give their collective recommendations at the December 7, 2010 meeting.
Prentakis suggested that the Board may want to invite the Town Moderator or other Charter members to the December meeting. Jones responded that she feels the BOS should first have a formal discussion just among the BOS and then invite the Town Moderator and other Charter members at the subsequent meeting.
There being no further discussion on the matter of the Town Charter, the discussion ended at 9:30 p.m.