James Katsiaficas, a Portland attorney formerly with the Maine Municipal Association, provided an overview of town charters and the charter-proposal process at an informational meeting on June 5 at the Meetinghouse. Katsiaficas also shared examples of what town charters can and cannot do, offered some pros and cons of charters, and fielded questions from the audience.
Katsiaficas was invited by Town Manager Carrie Castonguay and the Select Board ahead of New Gloucester’s June 11 referendum vote on whether to establish a town charter commission. In his introductory remarks, Katsiaficas noted that while the charter process must follow certain required steps, the scope and terms of a charter depend on the town’s “needs and desires” and are “unique to each municipality.”
Audience members asked questions about what prompts communities to turn toward charters, how residents are elected to seats on a charter commission, when a commission disbands, and more.
Mitch Berkowitz of Gray and Norm Beauparlant of Poland joined New Gloucester residents for a conversation about town charters on May 15 at the meetinghouse. Berkowitz, former town manager of Bridgton, Gray, and other communities, shared his perspective from having served in towns with and without charters. Beauparlant, vice chair of Poland’s former charter commission, focused on the charter process and what Poland residents chose to change and retain in their 2009 charter.
The discussion offered voters a chance to ask questions and hear from near neighbors–“neither pro or con,” and with “no skin in the game,” as Berkowitz put it–ahead of New Gloucester’s June 11 referendum vote on whether to establish a town charter commission.
Video of the charter conversation with Berkowitz and Beauparlant is available on demand at this link and will be broadcast on NGTV Channel 1302 until election day, Tuesday June 11. The detailed broadcast schedule is available below.
Third in a series of articles about town charters by John Salisbury
Why should the Town of New Gloucester approve a Charter Commission to draft a town charter?
The most compelling reason is “local control.” Many have probably heard this term bantered about. Local control is to a great extent a mirage for towns that have not adopted a municipal charter. This is because towns that do not have a charter only have limited options provided by the state statutes for determining their town governing and management structure.
1969 Maine Citizens adopted an amendment to the Maine Constitution that
provided municipal “home rule”.
rule is very important for municipalities because it affords the citizens of a
municipality the opportunity to adopt a municipal charter rather than depend
upon the state legislature for their governing authority.
For towns without town charters, there are very few laws that
address how town government shall run. These laws are scattered throughout various Maine State
Statutes, and difficult for the average person to find. This means that whoever is in elected office
in such a town is free to set – and change – rules and protocols.
A town charter is a legal document that sets, in one place, the
rules and protocols for the town’s operation. These rules are established by
the voters, and may only be changed by the voters. That means that
the town operates by the same rules, no matter who is elected, and that voters
can refer to these rules and hold elected officers accountable to them.
Hope to see you at the St. Patrick’s Day breakfast at the Eagles Club by Sabbathday Lake this SUNDAY, March 17th from 8-11 am for a hearty breakfast. (Peter’s post was great, but unfortunately he mentioned that the breakfast would be on Saturday, which is incorrect.) See you there!
Opinion by Peter Bragdon – Board of Selectmen Candidate
As you have probably seen there is a push in New Gloucester by a group of citizens to form a Charter Commission. I am involved in this diverse group which includes Democrats, Republicans, Independents, a retired town employee, past selectmen, current selectmen, retired Maine Municipal leaders and a retired town manager. I want to share why I think a Charter will benefit the town.
Frank Matzke of St. Augustine, Florida, uses adaptive ski equipment to compete in the VAST Fifth Annual Nordic Biathlon Camp at Pineland Farms on March 3.
VAST biathlon camp
The VAST Fifth Annual Nordic Biathlon Camp at Pineland Farms Feb. 28-March 4 attracted 16 competitors from California, Oregon, Florida and throughout New England. According to organizer Kristina Sabasteanski, one entrant was nearly 100 percent visually impaired, four have undergone amputations, several deal with traumatic brain injuries, some have PTSD and others received injuries from improvised explosive device blasts in Middle Eastern war zones. A few of the participants had never skied before the event but managed to hone their skills enough to compete in relay races testing their cross-country ski and target shooting abilities.
This is first in a series of articles by John Salisbury.
The New Gloucester municipal elections will be held on Tuesday, June 11, 2019. In addition to voting on candidates for the Board of Selectmen and the MSAD #15 school board seats voters will be voting on the question: Shall a Charter Commission be established for the purpose of creating a New Municipal Charter?Continue reading →