Council Begins Charter Review Process

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c1By Terry Rogers

Over the next few months, Milford City Council will hold a series of meetings in order to review the City Charter. The meetings are designed to allow council members to discuss any changes they see necessary to the charter and to obtain input from citizens who may have recognized changes that are necessary in the town charter.

“Most cities with a charter have dome sort of periodic charter review process,” said Eric Norenberg, City Manager. “Some municipal charters mandate a review every five or ten years, for others the timeframe is silent and City Council decides to begin the review when it believes sufficient time has passed to warrant a full review. In the most basic form, a charter review process can be a section-by-section review and analysis to consider updates to the charter. Changes may be necessary due to changes in state law as well as to enact changes in the policy.”

Currently, city staff has identified some items related to special elections and annexation procedures that need to be adjusted in the charter as well as some housekeeping changes to be sure that terminology is consistent throughout the charter. Mayor Bryan Shupe has indicated that one of the changes he would like to see implemented is the requirement that voters must be registered in the city even if they are already registered with the state election office.

“I see this as an extra step that could prevent people from voting,” Mayor Shupe said. “I believe it is possible that we could compare state voting records with our town records to determine who would be eligible to vote in city elections and eliminate this extra step for voters. It is one of the things we will discuss during our meetings related to the review.”

Mr. Norenberg said that he expected the Charter Review Committee to meet regularly for several months. Once they have completed their recommendations, they will be presented to City Council for consideration. Once City Council is satisfied with the final set of proposed changes, the charter will be sent to the General Assembly for approval. Mr. Norenberg said the entire process could take between eight and twelve months.

“Residents who would like to provide input into the charter review process can contact the City Clerk, City Manager or any Councilmember with comments or feedback,” Mr. Norenberg said. “Once the revisions to the charter are presented to City Council by the committee, the city may hold a public hearing for comments on the draft changes in order to obtain additional public input.”

Mr. Norenberg said that the committee hopes to make a thorough examination of all sections of the charter to be sure there are no conflicts with state law and terminology is consistent. He also said that the review will establish that city operations and practices established by provisions within the charter are appropriate for the future.

The current charter was adopted in 2010 with a recommendation that the charter be reviewed every five years. Although the main purpose of the review is to update the charter to match state law and to make sure the language is uniform throughout, Mayor Shupe has said that there are several new councilpersons who may need some assistance in understanding the complex document.

“I think it is a good idea for us to periodically review, make any updates necessary and clarify the items that council may not understand,” Mayor Shupe said.

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