Minutes of the Meeting
Charter Review Commission
08 November 2001
The sixth meeting of the Charter Review Commission was called to order at 7:10 p.m., at the Library Conference Room on Thursday, November 8, 2001. All members were present. Norma Willis, liaison from the Council, was not able to attend.
There was discussion of the minutes of the October 25th meeting. It was pointed out that the "letter" was: "We received a letter from the Board of Canvassers", instead of "we could ask for a letter" from them.
In the note regarding Section 213 it should have said that "Chief Tighe was asked to contact Fred Clarke" - not Sav.
In the paragraph about the Harbor Commission on page 3 of the former minutes it should read "They are a "class" and are also members of the Board of the Harbor Commission".
In the note regarding Section 216 the last sentences regarding the Town Solicitor and closure should be eliminated.
Motion was made and seconded and so voted to accept the minutes as amended.
A letter was received from the Town Clerk, Arlene Kalooski, in regard to the fact that the minutes should be available to the public prior to the next meeting. "Draft" copies should be available at the Town Hall and the Police Station.
At our next meeting, we need to revisit the minutes of the September 20th meeting. As it was written, it sounds as if the "open meeting" was ended so that we could go on with the rest of the meeting on our own. This was not the case. The suggestion was made that those who were so inclined were to leave at 8:45 p.m., so that they could hear the President's speech. Several people left. Our members chose to stay for a short time to distribute materials of interest, and review the list of sections that we wanted to take a closer look at - put them on "hold".
There was a brief discussion of Sav's letter to the Jamestown Press regarding the article in the Press entitled "Reviewers off the hook for decision on Town Meeting".
A letter was sent to the Board of Canvassers in response to their communication with our Committee in regard to changing the premise of having a financial Town Meeting or not, and the day, date and time of same. The crux of our response was that, as it stands now, the Charter contains nothing stating specifics on day, date and time, only that the Financial Town Meeting is referenced, but language specific to the charge of having a Financial
Town Meeting is not included.
In a conversation with the Town Solicitor, it was mentioned that the Financial Town Meeting specifics were not included in the Charter. The Solicitor explained that it reverts back to Public Law. The Council can vote to change and/or to amend the Financial Town Meeting. It can be legislatively changed by the Council. It would then go to our State Senator Theresa Paiva Weed, or to our Representative, Bill Murphy. When or if approved, the Governor would sign it into Law.
At present, the Town Council could abolish the Financial Town Meeting. Some members of the Town Council would like us to formally include specifics regarding the Financial Town Meeting to "solidify" it. The Canvassing Authority would like to see the meeting on a weekend, and the prospect of changing the date of the fiscal year. An early June date could possibly increase attendance.
There was a brief discussion of the word "qualifications" as mentioned in Section 213, however it was pointed out that Section 202 seems to make clear as to what is meant by the term "qualifications" in that section.
Mike will research the wording in Section 206 in regard to special meetings.
Peter and Chief Tighe will review Harrison Wright's recommendations in regard to gender references for the Charter. They will review the Charter line by line. Sav stated that he did not send a letter of appreciation to Harrison, but gave him verbal notation of the same.
We then moved on to ARTICLE III
Section 301 - Town Administrator - Appointment and Qualifications. We felt we needed to reword the section regarding residency. The phrase "within a reasonable period of time" needs to be clarified. A discussion followed. Most believed the Town Administrator should be a resident, but not necessarily all other Department heads. We must keep the Town's best interest at heart. The Town government should be as efficient as it possibly can. Peter stated that our Department heads need to be "the best and the brightest" money can afford.
We may need to pay higher salaries to meet residency requirements. We may need to subsidize housing for officials. Many employees can't afford to buy or rent with the market for housing as high as it is at present.
It was mentioned that a "reasonable period of time" could be six months to find housing, unless hardship was involved, in which case an extension could be granted by the Council.
We could review this with the Personnel Board.
Secton 302 - Okay as it is.
Section 303 - The section "may or shall" in reference to a "letter filed with the Town Clerk" regarding designation of someone to fill vacancy or absence or disability of the Town Administrator. Sav will research wordings.
Section 304 - Vacancy - The Council can extend the allowable time a temporary administrator can serve in extreme circumstances. We could possibly extend the wording "no longer than (12) twelve months".
Section 305 - It was noted that Randy Tyson mentioned that there should be longer range planning of the Town Administrator - a long term projection of from five to ten years.
Section 401 - OK as it is.
Section 402 - We need to revisit this in regard to "with consent of the Council, the Town Administrator may serve as the head of one or more", etc!
Section 403 - We need to consider this more specifically. The Town Clerk, herself, seems to state that she can adequately fulfill her duties as prescribed as long as she has adequate staffing support. Her first duty is to the Council. Peter will work on this to make it more specific.
Section 404 - Okay as it is. Residency not necessary.
Sectoin 405 - Board of Assessment review. There had been discussion of the number of members on the Board. Sue Brayman had mentioned that it might be advisable to increase the number to five instead of three. She had indicated that, if a member was absent, or had to recuse himself for some reason, that left only two members to make a decision. It was pointed out that most other Towns in the State had only three members on the Board.
Section 406 - Okay as it is. The Town Moderator is elected, therefore the residency requirement question is affirmed.
Section 407 - Emergency Management Director should be the title (a change from "Civil Defense Director"). This position is an appointment. Most feel it should be a resident.
Section 408 - Okay as it is.
Section 409 - Also a question arises here as to the residency requirement, as well as the and/or qualified elector.
Section 410 - Town Engineer - Recently, our Town engineer was David Guiney, who recently passed away. The Town Engineer is sort of "clerk of the works" in big projects affecting the Town. This is usually a contractual agreement. Do we need this in the Charter at all? Could the "engineer" be an "architect" by training? It was mentioned that, at present, Steve Goslee, head of Public Works, serves some of these roles.
In connection with the above, it was questioned as to whether we needed a Town Planner. It was pointed out that we need someone to watch over the progression of development in Town. Also, the Town Planner is capable of securing Grant money for Town projects. Also, the question was raised about the wording of may or shall in the text.
Section 411 - In regard to the Town Solicitor, it is our practice to contract with a firm of lawyers, not necessarily one specific person of a law firm. The section is OK as it is written.
Section 412 - Okay as it is. However, mention was made here in regard to the possibility of a municipal court, the fines of which would come into Town revenue.
Section 413 - We should question the Town Council on this. Should we strike the phrase "need not be a qualified elector of the Town of Jamestown"?
Section 414 - Okay as it is.
Section 415 - Public Works - question of residency deletion.
Section 416 - Parks and Recreation - question the need for residency requirements.
Section 417 - Police - Chief Tighe was asked for his opinion on this section. He feels the Chief of Police should be a resident. If not, there should be a frame of reference as to an area of mileage for his residency, a "time of response" clause. The Chief must be Rhode Island certified. The Chief should have attained the rank of Sergeant and have ten years in a supervisory position, not the three years listed. When testing for new patrolmen, a five point advantage should be given to residents who apply and pass the test. He stated exceptions to any of those requirements would be at the discretion of the Council. The Chief will draft his ideas. Pater Shocket stated that the residency requirement for the Chief was not, or should not be mandatory.
Section 418 - Fire - Sav will look into some of the questions regarding the operation and responsibilities of the Fire Department and it's structure.
Section 419 - Finance - At present, our Town Administrator, MaryAnne Crawford, is also
Finance Director in name only. Our Deputy Finance Director does not live in Town. This section needs to be researched with MaryAnne and our Town auditor. Sav will undertake this job.
Section 420 - Personnel - We postponed discussion on this as time was getting late.
Our next meeting will be November 15th. Dates for future meetings were discussed: November 29, December 11, January 3, January 24, February 7, and February 21.
A motion was made, seconded, and so voted to adjourn the meeting. Adjourned at 9:50 p.m..
Nancy L. Mason
Charter Review Commission