Please Vote “YES” on Question 8 – Charter Change

rectangle-yesOn November 8, Please Vote “YES” on Question 8, the Charter Amendment, the 1st Local Question on the Ballot

Please support the proposed Charter change for any citizen’s financial petition that involves bonding authorization (one which imposes a long-term future tax increase), to be submitted to town voters at a general election. This will allow time for prior due diligence, public input, and the largest possible voter awareness and participation.

Click on blue boxes with questions below to open and display detailed answers and background information.
    • Only changes the date of the referendum to the November General Election for those citizen proposals that require bonding and long term tax increases.
      • The right to make citizen financial petitions and all other procedures remain exactly the same.
    • Increases the time to study the proposal and advertise the election from one month to at least six months.
      • The Charter change will allow adequate time for both citizens and town government to review the proposals, ask questions, and determine if they support a tax increase to implement the citizen petition.
    • Increases voter participation from a few hundred voters to thousands of voters.
      • The 10 year average for voter participation in the June Financial Referendum is 400 voters. The voter turnout of 3,000 to 4,500 for the general election is more representative of the total number of Charlestown taxpayers.
    • Allows time for absentee ballots (mail ballots).
      • If you are out of town during the June Financial Referendum, there is no process to allow absentee voting. Mail ballots, which are an increasingly popular option, are always available during a General Election.
  • Changes are highlighted in red.

    QuestionsUnder Current Charter If Charter Change Passes
    Current Situation If Charter Change Passes
    When is the General Election?In November when we vote for President, Governor, and other state and federal officesNo Change
    When is the Budget Public Hearing? No later than May 10No Change
    When is the Financial Referendum?The first Monday in JuneNo Change
    What rights do citizens have
    to add or eliminate a budget item?
    Citizen petitions are placed on the ballot as long as they are consistent with the Town Charter and state law. Placing on the ballot a warrant item initiated by citizens’ petition need not be approved, nor can it be denied, by the Town Council.No Change
    What is the procedure for citizens to add or eliminate a municipal budget item?Citizens have until ten calendar days prior to the Budget Public Hearing to present their proposal signed by 200 of the town’s voters.No Change
    When will we vote on a citizen petition to eliminate a municipal budget item?In June at the Financial ReferendumNo Change
    When will we vote on a citizen petition to add a municipal budget item to that year's budget?In June at the Financial ReferendumNo Change
    When will we vote on a citizen petition to add a municipal budget item through long-term bonded indebtedness? (bonding is usually 20 years for amounts of $1 million or more)In June at the Financial Referendum when on average, 400 people voteIn November at the next General Election when 3,000 to 4,500 people vote
    How long do the voters and Town Council have to study a proposal that involves long-term debt?Three to four weeksSix or Eighteen months
    Will absentee ballots (mail ballots) be available?NoYes
    If the referendum is deemed to be urgent, can the town council bring it to a vote at times other than the regularly scheduled elections?Yes, the Town Council can adopt a citizen petition as their own and bring it to a vote sooner if timing is important.No Change
  • 8. AMENDMENT TO THE CHARLESTOWN TOWN CHARTER
    Duly adopted by the Charlestown Town Council on the 9th day of August, 2016.
    (Amends Article XXVI Financial Referendum § C-86, Sec. B. – Date, Time and Purpose)

    “Shall the Town Charter be amended at Article XXVI, Financial Referendum § C-86 to provide that any voter-initiated referendum to authorize bonded indebtedness on the Town may only be presented to the voters at a regularly scheduled general election?”

    Explanation: This amendment is intended to increase voter participation by requiring that any voter-initiated referendum question or bonding authorization be presented at a general election, rather than at the financial town meeting, when voter turnout is typically lower.

    Existing Provisions: Bonding authorization referendum questions may be proposed at any financial town meeting.

  • Note: words below in red are to be added to the Town Charter. The rest of the text is the Charter as it currently exists.

    AMENDMENT TO THE CHARLESTOWN TOWN CHARTER
    (Amends Article XXVI Financial Referendum § C-86, Sec. B. – Date, Time and Purpose)

    A. The electors of the town qualified to vote upon a proposition to impose a tax or expenditure of money shall assemble each year at the Budget Public Hearing to be held no later than May 10 to receive and discuss the proposed budget and warrant item(s) from the Town Council in advance of the Financial Referendum by the electors qualified to vote upon a proposition to impose a tax or for the expenditure of money. The Financial Referendum shall be held on the first Monday in June from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

    B. Those electors who wish to add or eliminate a municipal budget item have until ten (10) calendar days prior to the Budget Public Hearing to present their proposed warrant items for those actions signed by 200 of the town’s voters qualified to vote upon a proposition to impose a tax or for the expenditure of money. This provision is not available for a proposal seeking to impose bonded indebtedness authorization on the town. Any proposal seeking to impose bonded indebtedness authority on the town shall follow this same procedure, but shall only be submitted to the town’s voters at the next regularly scheduled general election. The Town Clerk shall accept all petitions and submit the petitions to the Town Solicitor to review for consistency with the Town Charter and state law. Those petitions found to be inconsistent shall not be acted upon at the Budget Public Hearing/Financial Referendum.

    C. The Town Clerk has until five (5) calendar days before the Budget Public Hearing to certify that sufficient valid signatures have been presented to qualify those warrant item(s) proposed by electors to be considered at the Budget Public Hearing.

    D. The electors who offer these warrant initiatives shall be given time to explain their proposals at the Budget Public Hearing.

    E. If there is a conflict between warrant items, the moderator of the Budget Public Hearing shall call for votes to determine which of the conflicting petitions for warrant items shall appear on the Financial Referendum ballot.

    F. The Town Treasurer shall, as part of all presentations in this process, provide an estimate of the tax rate implication of the municipal-Town budget, the school budget and each warrant item.

    G. The Town Council shall adopt the budget and all warrant items for the Financial Referendum no later than the second Monday in May.

  • Charlestown holds a Financial Referendum each year in June to allow voters to approve (or not) the town’s budget and any warrant items proposed by the Town or by citizen petition and placed on the ballot.

    Citizen petitions are placed on the ballot as long as they are consistent with the Town Charter and state law. Placing on the ballot a warrant item initiated by citizens’ petition need not be approved, nor can it be denied, by the Town Council.

    The citizens petition may be proposed 10 days before the Budget Hearing in May, and be put to a public vote the following month.

    Section C-86 (B) of the Town Charter reads as follows, “Those electors who wish to add or eliminate a municipal budget item have until ten (10) calendar days prior to the Budget Public Hearing to present their proposed warrant items for those actions signed by 200 of the town’s voters qualified to vote upon a proposition to impose a tax or for the expenditure of money.”