Topsham selectmen, shown here during a Thursday Zoom meeting, discuss setting a date for a referendum on forming a charter commission. Screenshot

TOPSHAM — Topsham voters will decide June 8 whether to form a charter commission that would recommend changes to help the town government run better.

Selectmen Thursday unanimously voted to put the question to voters during an already-scheduled June election where Topsham voters typically vote on the Maine School Administrative District 75 budget.

Assistant Town Manager Mark Waltz said if voters favor forming a charter commission, six people will need to be elected to the group. The commission would propose a charter, which would go before voters at another referendum.

Selectwoman Ruth Lyons said she liked the idea of holding the vote on the charter commission in June so that if it passes, the election of members can happen at the Nov. 2 general election when Topsham is electing other municipal officers.

The town’s code of ordinances requires the town to form a committee to review Topsham’s form of government at least every 10 years. The most recent government review committee recommended the town form a charter commission.

Issues that arose included recalls, budgets, grants and ordinances, government review committee chair Matthew Abbott told selectmen in November 2020. For example, Topsham’s current government is managed by state law which doesn’t allow a selectman to be recalled for a code of conduct violation.

The previous charter commission approved by Topsham voters proposed a charter that would have moved the town to a representative town council form of government. It was defeated in a 2008 vote.


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