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Explanatory Text Approved for Charter Revision Vote

Final wording approved for proposed charter revisions and guide to each question.

The town approved short explanations for each of the nine charter revisions that will be on the November 6 ballot along with the state, federal and presidential races. The final wording for the questions was also finalized [see attached PDF] in time for the absentee ballots, which are available from the Town Clerk’s Office.

The informational text — reproduced below and in an attached PDF — will be available to voters for review at both polling places on Election Day.

Explanatory Text

Set forth below is an explanatory text summarizing the proposed changes and explaining how the proposed changes differ from the provisions of the present Charter.

Question #1:

Shall the Charter be amended to provide for a Town Manager with the following changes:

a) Modify the duties of the First Selectman (Article C5-1, C5-2);
b) Grant the Town Manager the authority to hire and fire town employees (C5-3);
c) Designate the duties of the Town Manager (C6-11, C8-2, C8-5, C8-7A, C8-7B, C6-1, C4-13)?

Explanation:

Approval of this question would create the new position of “Town Manager” (Section C6-11) who shall function as the Chief Operating Officer of the Town, and shall be appointed by the Board of Selectmen.  The Town Manager shall: 1) hire and dismiss employees of the Town (except employees of the Board of Education); 2) shall supervise the Town employees; 3) with the approval of the Board of Selectmen, the Town Manager may appoint and may remove a Chief of Police, Tax Collector, Assessor, Director of Health, Fire Marshal and other administrative officials. By creating the position of Town Manager the duties of the First Selectman are modified.

Question #2:

Shall the Charter be amended to provide for a five (5) member Board of Selectmen (C4-1), with the following changes:

a) Provide for a three (3) member quorum (C4-4);
b) Require three (3) Selectmen to pass an emergency ordinance (C4-6);
c) Provide for affirmative vote of three (3) members to remove officials (C4-11)?

Explanation:

Approval of this question will increase the number of Selectmen from three (3) to five (5). As a result of the increased membership on the Board of Selectmen, approval of this question would also change the number of Selectmen required for a quorum at a meeting (Section C4-4), the number of Selectmen required to pass an emergency ordinance (Section C4-6), and the number of Selectmen required to remove an official (Section C4-11).

Question #3:

Shall the Charter be amended to provide for the election of the First Selectman separately from the other Selectmen (C3-2A1 & 2)?

Explanation:

Approval of this question provides for the election of the First Selectmen separately from the other Selectmen (Sections C3-2A1 & 2).  The present Charter allows a candidate running for the Office of the First Selectman who receives less votes that the other candidate(s) for First Selectman to become a member of the Board of Selectmen if his or her vote is high enough. Under this proposed amendment this could not happen.

Questions #4:

Shall the Charter be amended to allow the Board of Selectmen to place “non-binding” questions on the ballot for the town and education portions of the budget; the questions shall be limited to the following responses, “Too Low”, “Appropriate” or “Too High”?

Explanation:

Approval of this question will allow the Board of Selectmen to place non-binding advisory questions for the Town and/or education budgets as the case may be (Section C9-1C).  The questions are limited to asking if the budget is “Too High”, “Appropriate” or “Too Low”.

Questions #5:

Shall the Charter be amended to modify the number of electors required to sign a petition on a referendum to overrule the Board of Selectmen, or to initiate an Ordinance (C4-7, C4-7A, C4-7C, C4-8, C4-8A, C4-8C, C4-9B, C9-5)?

Explanation:

Approval of this question increases the number of electors required to sign a petition for a Town Meeting to overrule an ordinance, resolution or other action of the Board of Selectmen, from 3% to 4% (Sections C4-7 & C4-7A); increase the number of electors required to sign a petition for a referendum to overrule an ordinance, resolution or other action of the Board of Selectmen from 3% to 4% (Sections C4-8 & C4-8A); and increase the number of electors required to sign a petition to initiate an ordinance from 3% to 4% (Section C4-9B). Approval of this question further increases the number of electors required to vote at a Town Meeting to overrule an ordinance, resolution or other action of the Board of Selectmen from 1% to 2% (Section C4-7C); and increases the number of electors required to vote on a referendum to overrule an action of the Board of Selectmen regarding an ordinance, resolution or other action from 1% to 2% (Sections C4-8 & C4-8C).

Question #6:

Shall the Charter be amended to provide for the right to petition actions of the Board of Finance or transfer to a special town meeting or referendum relative to special appropriations (C8-5B)?

Explanation:

Approval of this question provides for the right of electors to petition actions of the Board of Finance relative to transfers or special appropriations to a Special Town Meeting or a referendum with the signature of 4% of the town electors (Section C8-5B).

Question #7:

Shall the Charter be amended to allow the Board of Selectmen to approve special appropriations in an amount not to exceed $50,000 (C8-5)? 

Explanation:

Approval of this question increases the amount of transfers and special appropriations which the Board of Selectmen can approve from $20,000.00 to $50,000.00 (Section C8-5). 

Question #8:

Shall the Charter be amended to provide that if the number of electors present at the annual Town Meeting equals at least 4% of the registered town electors, then the annual Town Meeting may increase the Town Budget or Board of Education budget (C9-3B)?

Explanation:

Approval of this question allows the Annual Town Meeting to change any appropriation in the Annual Budget, provided there are at least 4% of the total number of electors present. The present Charter only allows the Annual Town Meeting to decrease an appropriation (Section 9-3B).

Question #9:

Shall the Charter be amended to make certain technical changes:

a) Defining when appointees’ term ends  in the event of a vacancy (C2-6D);
b) Adding specific authority allowing the Board of Selectmen to prosecute or defend lawsuits (C4-2);
c) Eliminating certain procedures at the first meeting of Board of Selectmen (C4-3);
d) Eliminating the word “bi-annually” relative to the requirement of First Selectman to review all Ordinances (C4-10B);
e) Adding words “at his or her expense” relative to legal representation at a suspension hearing (C4-11B2);
f) Changing the titles of certain named officers of the Town (C6-1); 
g) Making language change relative to the Board of Selectmen’s authority over the Chief of Police (C6-9);
h) Eliminating alternates and thereby increasing the number of regular members on the Police Commission, Economic Development Commission and Library Board of Trustees (at their request), deleting the Gurski Commission from the list, bringing the Housing Authority language into compliance with State Statute and reordering the lists of Boards and Commissions to reflect those changes (C7-6);
i) Changing the number of days the Board of Finance has to act on a matter from thirty (30) days to forty-five (45) days (C8-5F);
j) Allowing Board of Selectmen to extend a previously authorized appropriation for an additional two (2) years (C8-7D);
k) Amending Addendum A, I, II, and III per Section C7-6?

Explanation:

Approval of this question provides for certain technical changes in the Charter as follows:

a) If a vacancy has occurred in an elective office, the person filling the vacancy serves until an elected successor’s term begins (Section C2-6D);
b) Adds the specific authority allowing the Board of Selectmen to prosecute or defend lawsuits (Section C4-2);
c) Eliminates certain procedural details of the first meeting of the Board of Selectmen (Section C4-3);
d) Eliminates the words “at least bi-annually” from the requirement that the First Selectmen shall review the ordinances (Section C4-10B); 
e) Adds the words “at his or her own expense” to the right of an appointed office holder to have an attorney represent them at a hearing to suspend such office holder (Section C4-11B2);
f) Changes the titles of certain named officers of the Town (Section C6-1); 
g) Changes the language in the provision by which the Board of Selectmen has authority over the Chief of Police (Section C6-9); 
h) Eliminates alternates and thereby increases the number of regular members on certain Boards and Commission, and deletes the Gurski Commission (its duties be transferred to the Conservation Commission)(Section C7-6);  
i) Changes the number of days the Board of Finance has to act on a matter from thirty (30) days to forty-five (45) days (Section C8-5F); 
j) Allows the Board of Selectmen to extend a previously authorized appropriation for an additional two (2) years (Section C8-7D); 
k) Amends Addendum A, I, II, III (same as Section C7-6).

Mary Davis September 25, 2012 at 05:05 PM
It seems these charter revisions as a whole are heading in the wrong direction with our town government. As one can't veto a particular line item.. I will have to vote "NO" on the whole mess.
David Propper September 25, 2012 at 06:25 PM
Mary, I would request that you take the time to understand the Charter Revision process. In fact, each question is independent and stands on its own. You will have the opportunity to cast 9 separate votes. This may not have been obvious from the wording in the article.
Lifelong Resident September 25, 2012 at 07:26 PM
Sounds as if #5, especially is to take away the ability to overturn an action by the Board of Selectmen - ridiculous - so much for power of the people... seems that the BOS is getting a bit too power hungry - or dare I say nervous that their 'will' may not be done???
Rob Gianazza September 25, 2012 at 07:27 PM
Thank you David, I will be voting NO eight times. I can support only one of the proposed revisions.
Mary Davis September 25, 2012 at 08:51 PM
@ David Thanks.. I will study them and post my feelings...
H. Ferguson September 25, 2012 at 11:08 PM
What an absurd mess!
Steven DeVaux September 26, 2012 at 03:21 AM
After carefully reading each change, I surmise that these clearly are of benefit to the paid politicians and of detriment to the Brookfield public as a whole. None should be supported in light of that.
Susan Balla September 26, 2012 at 08:38 PM
I think we need to revise once in awhile. The town charter is our by-laws. Our country has the Bill of Rights so towns need their bill of rights. I do not go along with having a town manager but if you are thinking that we need one person to run the town instead of three selectmen then go to a mayor ship.
LFerrara September 29, 2012 at 04:13 PM
Please join us on Facebook in the group "Preserve Brookfield"...we will be discussing these proposed revisions.
Mary Jane Copp October 01, 2012 at 03:34 AM
Many citizens in Brookfield are not on Facebook. We need feedback from somewhere other than twitter or facebook. Please tell where we can see your analysis.
Howard Lasser October 01, 2012 at 12:05 PM
If anyone is interested there will be a forum at the Library Oct. 22 7:00pm on the Charter Revision. This will be a moderated pannel discussion with members of the charter revision commission who will present the rationale for their recommendations. Others who might present an alternate view have been invited so the public can get a balanced view on the issues.
Howard Lasser October 01, 2012 at 12:05 PM
Also, the public will have an oportunity to ask questions.
Mary Davis October 03, 2012 at 05:31 PM
@David OK...I've had some time to study these and I now understand that I have nine individual items to vote on. I've always supported the idea of smaller and limited government and especially now when we need to stop annual spending increases.. it seems that revisions number 1.) (Town Manager - is not needed), 2.) (5 members BOS, too many, 3 works great!) and 8.) (4% of voters control - no good) These three items increase the size the scope of government and take rights away the voting citizens. There is nothing wrong with how it works now... I'm not even sure why these revisions were needed.. especially the ones that all it does is increase the size of Brookfield's government... So, I will be voting NO for charter revisions 1, 2, and 8... the others I'm not strongly opinionated one way or the other. "1-2-8...BIGGER IS NOT GREAT!" I'll see you all at the forum.
John Funk October 03, 2012 at 05:48 PM
Mary: Thanks, I agree with you... people on fixed incomes can't afford the annual spending increases that will become even more likely with a larger town government. I will also vote NO on items 1, 2 & 8
Howard Lasser October 03, 2012 at 06:22 PM
In both of #2 and # 8 proposals the people are granted greater access and participation in their government. #2 Having 5 vs. 3 selectmen does not change the function of the Board it just increases representation of the people in the primary policy making board. In that respect it does not expand the scope or reach of Government. It also removes the requirement to pay the selectmen so it potentially decreases the cost. # 8 provides for the Town meeting to make decisions regarding spending and the budget, empowering the Town meeting, that is again expanding people's ability to participate in town government. It does not increase the size or the cost of government.
Rob Gianazza October 03, 2012 at 06:50 PM
Having two additional selectmen alters the rules for a quorum. This enables special meetings of the board to be convened when not all voting members are present. It also means that selectmen can discuss matters when not in public session, so long as a quorum is not present. That is a significant change to our current form of government.
Howard Lasser October 03, 2012 at 07:01 PM
Rob you are right that the quorum would be up from 2 to 3. Do people really believe in a town of 16000 it should take only 2 votes to create a law? I do not see how requiering 1 more person at the meeting alters the form of government. Selectmen can meet now not it public session, the only limiting factor now is Democrats can only talk to Democrats and Republicans can only talk to Republicans. Doesn't it make sense if you want to solve problems all people can talk to each other? Decisions must be made in public meetings called for that purpose, and I have always maintained that the rationale for any decision should also be on the public record (something that other boards with more than 5 members do not do). Let's get real and join the 21st century.
Ron Jaffe October 03, 2012 at 07:34 PM
The expansion from 3 to 5 would afford Board of Selectmen the same opportunity that currently exists for Board of Finance and Board of Education members — no more, no less. Board of Finance and Board of Education members can currently discuss issues across party lines, so why should we have special restrictions for the policy making group — the Board of Selectmen. There is no change in the form of government — simply an increase in the number of Selectmen.
David Propper October 03, 2012 at 08:19 PM
Mary, while I respect the "small is better" philosophy, I used the "Improve efficiency and reduce bureaucracy" philosophy in my deliberations as a member of the CRC. I ask that you consider the impact of the Freedom of Information Act on a 3 person BOS. The two conditions significantly increase the bureaucracy of the BOS. We also, as part of question 2, recommended to eliminate the requirement to pay the non-First Selectmen a percentage of the First Selectman's salary (please don't ask me which previous CRC put that clause in our Charter).
Steven DeVaux October 22, 2012 at 09:47 AM
Mary, If it ain't broke, don't "fix it". It's as simple as that and I don't think it's broke. Vote no for the third time on some of these issues and end it once and for all.

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