Based on the recommendations of the Charter and Bylaws Review Committee, several questions will appear on the March 14 ballot relating to changes to the Town Charter. This is the second step in the process of Charter changes. All were approved at the November Special Town Meeting by a two-thirds or more vote in favor.
The Charter is our foundational document for Town governance. Written and approved in 1974, the Charter includes a process for periodic review and updating. Approval at a Town Meeting and through a Town vote ensures that all Bedford voters have the opportunity to participate in approving any changes.
Note: All residents recently received the Warrant for the Annual Town Election. It includes information on the questions. The following is a synopsis of this information.
The questions are not numbered on the ballot but appear below by order on the ballot. In each case, the vote is either “yes” in support of the change or “no,” as do not support the change. Acceptance of each proposed change requires a majority “yes” vote.
- Amend the Town Charter by changing the term “Selectmen” to “Select Board.” The new term is proposed as gender-neutral. Additional grammatical changes will be made throughout the Charter consistent with this change.
- Amend the Town Charter by adding Oxford commas, capitalizing “T” in “Town,” and making the Charter gender-neutral.
- Amend Article 2 to articulate the expectation that all members of a board, commission, or committee should consider it their responsibility to attend Town Meeting. Previously, the article stated an expectation that at a minimum the chairperson or a designated member shall attend.
- Amend Article 3 to update the list of officers appointed by the Selectmen, their terms, and delete “Special Police Officers” who are no longer appointed by the Selectmen.
- Amend Article 5-Sections 5-1, 5-1g, 5-1h, 5-li to add a minimum value to assets to be included in the Town Manager’s annual inventory plus grammatical changes.
- Amend Article 5-Section 5-3 of the Town Charter Enumerates the required elements of the Town Manager’s warrant report including the requirement that the report provide the impact of the residential tax impact for each article.
- Amend Article 8 (Recall of Town Officials) Clarifies the steps for qualification of a successor following a recall election.
- Amend Article 5, Section 5-1 (Town Manager) Adds the appointment, supervision, and removal of the Town Assessor to the responsibilities of the Town Manager. Appointment and removal of a Town Assessor will be subject to the approval of the Board of Assessors. The significant change is that the Town Assessor will be supervised by the Town Manager, similar to other heads of town departments.
The final step in changing the Town Charter will be to secure the State Attorney General’s approval of the Charter with approved changes incorporated.