New Gloucester forum highlights charter proposal, selectmen candidates — Sun Journal

[NGX eds. correction: The town is not deciding in June whether to switch to a town charter form of government. The town is instead voting on whether to create a charter commission. A charter commission would develop a proposed charter for voters to consider, and that charter can retain the town’s current Board of Selectmen and town meeting form of governance.]

By Ellie Fellers — Special to the Sun Journal

New Gloucester — Information on a town charter form of government and the views of four selectmen candidates were presented at a public forum Wednesday night ahead of next month’s referendum and elections.

Norm Beauparlant of Poland, vice chairman of the former Poland Town Charter Committee, and Mitch Berkowitz, former town manager of Gray and Bridgton, answered questions on the pros and cons of a town charter, which sets out rules for governing towns and cities.

Poland adopted its charter in 2009; Gray in 2001.

“The recognizable difference is subtle and the effect spells out the town’s conduct and how it adopts laws,” Berkowitz said.

Beauparlant said Poland’s nine-member charter committee was guided by an attorney, and he advised members work to compromise when necessary to be successful.

Of 494 Maine towns, 25 percent have charters. Of towns with populations over 5,000, 82 percent have charters.

Keep reading Ellie Fellers’s article in the Sun Journal.