Lunenburg Charter Ready for Review
By Mina Corpuz
LUNENBURG -- More than a year after an updated town charter was expected to go before voters, the Charter Review Committee has released a draft that will be presented at the Spring 2019 Town Meeting.
“We believe that the charter generally works and it’s important to reflect the town as it grows,” said outgoing Chairman Bob Ebersole during a presentation at Tuesday’s Special Town Meeting.
The draft was released that night and is available on the town website under “Important Documents.”
Ebersole said the committee clarified language, fixed typos, and made sure a section was consistent with another in the charter draft.
The Charter Review Committee has been reaching out to town boards, committees, and officials to gather input on the charter.
To hear from residents, the committee will hold two public hearings that will be televised and available to watch later online.
A handout provided at the Special Town Meeting summarized some of the major proposed changes laid out in the charter:
n Changing Board of Selectmen’s name to Select Board to be more gender inclusive;
n Making the town clerk a position appointed by the town manager and ratified by the Select Board. The clerk’s responsibilities are more administrative rather than policy-based like for members of elected boards, according to the handout. Other town positions, like treasurer and tax collector, are already appointed;
n Requiring committee appointees to be residents who are registered to vote in town;
n Having a second Town Meeting in the fall to spread out work, shorten how long meetings are, and have more residents participate;
n Clarifying Select Board and town manager powers to appoint department heads;
n Clarifying town manager duties for personnel management, jurisdiction over town facilities, property, the budget, day-to-day operations;
n Specifying the process to remove and suspend the town manager;
n Requiring a minimum number of votes for write-in candidates if their names are not on the ballot. They would need the same number of votes as signatures required by law to place their name on the ballot.
Ebersole said the committee also considered term limits, a representative town meeting, and rank choice voting, but opted not to include them in the charter.
In April 2017, the Charter Review Committee, presented a draft of the charter that it intended to bring to the Spring Town Meeting, but decided more work needed to be done.
Lunenburg’s charter was last updated in 2009. The document is meant to be reviewed every 10 years.
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