North Smithfield to hold public hearing tonight on charter amendments

North Smithfield to hold public hearing tonight on charter amendments

NORTH SMITHFIELD – The Town Council will hold a public hearing on proposed charter amendments tonight, Thursday, April 12, at 7 p.m., in the Halliwell School Auditorium.

The proposed amendments are the product of more than a year’s consideration by the Charter Review Commission and would be voted on at the Nov. 6 election.

Among the major amendments proposed by the commission is a change in the town administrator position from an elected to an appointed position. According to the amendment, the administrator would be appointed by a two-thirds vote of the Town Council for an initial employment contract not to exceed three years. Compensation would be determined by the Council.

While the amendment mandates a search committee consider education and relevant town management experience, Town Council President John Beauregard noted those qualifications could also come with a salary increase in order to generate competition for the position.

“If you wanted to find somebody good and keep them in that position, you’d have to make sure you have a salary that’s good and competitive with other towns and municipalities. You couldn’t do it and offer the salary that the administrator is getting now,” said Beauregard.

In 2017, the annual salary of the town administrator was reported to the state as $77,625. In a ranking of Rhode Island cities and towns according to compensation of the chief municipal officer, North Smithfield ranked 27 out of 34 municipalities that reported salary information.

Another major amendment would increase the Town Council from five to seven members and increase terms from two to four years, with members elected on a staggered basis every two years. A separate amendment would set a term limit for all elected officials of eight consecutive years.

An amendment was also proposed to reduce the School Committee from seven to five members, eliminating the two positions currently appointed by the Town Council and the town administrator.

Several smaller proposed changes would amend the wording of the charter to ensure compliance with the Open Meetings Act and other updates to Rhode Island state law.

According to Beauregard, the committee has not yet determined whether amendments will be listed together or as separate ballot items in the November election. He said the public is welcome to share concerns or thoughts on the charter amendments, including on the grouping of ballot items.

The Charter Review Commission was first formed by the Town Council in March 2016. A copy of the proposed charter amendments is available to the public on the town website.

Comments

Appointed Town Manager is the smartest choice. Managers are fiscally responsible and do not worry about votes.

The citizens of this town have already made their decision on this Town Manager issue. Why do you people insist on trying to ram it down our throats? You can put lipstick on a pig, but in the end, it's still a pig!

..after a brief discussion with City of Pawtucket personnel and looking at the NS Charter there is a difference of opinion on what constitutes a democratic process in other Cities and Towns in case of death, illness, retirement of a Town/City Council ELECTED member:.
Town Council position is elected by the people - not by a sitting Town Council Member(s) !
In my opinion the moment the seat is vacated for any reason, nominations should be sought and an election should be called ASAP.

The Town and City Councils are elected positions for very important reasons across the USA.

The personnel is for me not the issue...an election is the issue. The democratic process is the issue-Town Chartered or no.
I think common sense has been cast aside with the on-the-Charter-books ruling.
We should look to change the Charter's language...

...from City of Pawtucket Charter regarding Town Council vacancy due to untimely death, retirement, illness, etc:
Sec. 2-102
Vacancies.
If a vacancy occurs in the office of councilman more than one hundred eighty days before the time of holding the next succeeding regular city election, the board of canvassers shall call a special election for the purpose of filling such vacancy for the remainder of the term, such special election to be held not less than thirty nor more than fifty days after the date of the occurrence of such vacancy. If any such vacancy occurs one hundred eighty days, or less, before the time of holding the next succeeding regular city election, the board of canvassers shall call a special election for said purpose, to be held not less than thirty days nor more than fifty days after the date of the occurrence of such vacancy, on demand therefor in writing signed by at least one-third of all the members of the council, and filed with the board of canvassers and the city clerk at least sixty days prior to the time of holding the next succeeding regular city election. In the event that any state election, regular or special, or any city election for any other purpose shall be held within the said period, the board of canvassers may in its discretion order any special election required by the provisions of this section to be held at the same time as such other city or state election.

Town managers on average save 20% twenty percent of budgets upon arrival. Town managers are educated in grants,federal,state and nonprofit funds. It will be politics as usual in town just more frugal.

I appreciate the comments above regarding the charter amendments. Unfortunately the public hearing was held and other than the charter review committee and town officials, there were less than 5 members of the public in attendance. The interest in the charter review committee public meetings garnered the same interest from the general public.

The value of making suggestions in the Valley Breeze that should be brought forth during a public hearing is the same as the price of this paper.... Zero.

Please provide your sources to back up the claim of savings. Hard data is needed, not conjecture.

Why are cities and towns Privatizing services all over the country. If we hired a recent MBA graduate from Bryant to run our town as a private business do you think we could save money.My point is cities and towns have exceeded their financial means for to long and taxpayers want change.

AMEN!