Expect Home Rule Charter delivered to homes next week

Expect Home Rule Charter delivered to homes next week

SCITUATE – Every home in Scituate should receive a copy of the proposed Home Rule Charter in the mail next week after $10,000 was allotted during the Financial Town Meeting to give voters a chance to review the 65-page document before going to vote on Nov. 3.

During the Sept. 10 Town Council meeting, residents expressed concerns that Town Clerk Peggy Long had not already sent out the mailers for the governing document. Scituate Democratic Town Committee President Alicia Kelley said the FTM was eight weeks ago, questioning the delay.

Long responded that it took “extensive work” to coordinate the mailing with a printer, and she guaranteed the documents would be in the postbox within 10 days, or Sept. 20. Long said she waited until closer to the Nov. 3 general election, and thought a window five or six weeks before the election was better.

“We didn’t want to send it out too early where people just throw it away,” she said.

Home Rule Charter Commission member Ruth Strach said the delay was disappointing. She said without being able to do outreach due to coronavirus restrictions, the mailer is the best way for people to learn about the proposed charter.

“I really wished that it had gone out sooner. It’s a $10,000 investment. It’s getting late for people to spend time with,” she said.

A copy of the charter is available on the town’s website, www.scituateri.org. Strach has a dedicated phone line for residents with questions about the Home Rule Charter, and she can be reached at 401-474-3848.

Strach petitioned for the Home Rule Charter after the former Town Council appointed a commission to draft a legislative charter. The legislative charter was completed months before the Home Rule Charter, and was used as a guideline for its drafting.

“Home Rule is by the people, for the people,” says Strach of her preferred charter.

There are three significant changes to the Home Rule Charter that will change how the town is governed. Mainly, the town would hire a full-time town manager to oversee day-to-day operations under the command of the elected Town Council. Under the manager’s leadership, the town clerk and treasurer would change to hired positions rather than elected.

As the last town in Rhode Island to govern without a charter, Strach said it is time for things to change.

She has one message to send to residents regarding the charter: read it.

“It’s about making this town better. We should have done this long ago,” she said.