SACO — Voters in Saco  Nov. 2 will decide nine referendum questions amending the City Charter and decide a $50 million bond question to make substantial upgrades to the Water Resource Recovery plant.

The bond would essentially rebuild the 50-year-old Front Street facility that city officials say is subject to hydraulic backups, increased demand on the service, and poor ability to meet anticipated regulatory requirements.

The first charter question addresses a vacancy in the mayor’s office or on the City  Council.

If approved, it would see the deputy mayor fill the office of mayor until the first Monday in December following the next regular municipal election when the remaining unexpired term of the mayor office is filled. If the vacancy takes place less than 75 days before the next regular municipal election, the unexpired term is filled by a special election within 105 days from the first day of the vacancy. A successor deputy would be selected by the City Council at the second regular meeting after certification of the result of the election.

For  a City Council vacancy, letters of interest would be sought for 21 days, and the council would then vote after a public hearing. The person would hold office until the rest of the term is filled at the next regular election. If after following the process, the City Council fails to fill the vacancy within 30 days, the mayor appoints a successor. If the vacancy occurs less than 75 days from the next regular election, the seat is filled by a special election 105 days from the beginning of the vacancy.

The second charter amendment question outlines provisions for filling School Board vacancies. School administration would notify the public of a vacancy, seek letters of interest due in 21 days, host a public hearing and vote in a successor. If the School Board fails to do so, the mayor would  appoint. The 75-day rule that applies to mayor and City Council would also apply in this case.

The third charter question modifies charter language regarding bond repayment in concert with the provisions outlined in state law, and strikes a provision that currently allows each year’s installments “to be adjusted to the nearest multiple of $5,000 and allows that the amount of each year’s installment may vary provided that it is equal to or greater than the installment due and payable in any succeeding year.”

The fourth charter question spells out how a deputy mayor is selected from the City Council membership, outlines that the term of deputy mayor is one year, and may be reelected. If the council fails to select a deputy mayor within 30 days, the mayor may appoint. If a vacancy occurs in the office of deputy mayor caused by death, resignation or removal of the councilor, the council would nominate and vote on a new deputy, who serves the e remainder of the one-year term.

The fifth charter amendment question spells out how the mayor appoints liaisons to boards, bodies, or commissions. It notes the mayor may only appoint a new liaison during the year if a vacancy arises — appointments are for one year.

The sixth charter question amends the City Council’s action on the School Department budget, striking a provision that the council may only increase or decrease the total amount “spent on any budget established under law but it may not otherwise amend programs or programming personnel or any other category which authority is reserved to the School Board.”

The seventh charter question clarifies language in recall provisions and spells out that the City Council would order an election to fill such a vacancy within 105 days, rather than the current 60-day timeframe.

The eighth charter amendment question spells out prohibitions on former elected and appointed officials from lobbying or seeking business with the city: “No former Department Head or Department Manager of the City and no former Mayor or City Council member (altogether “City Official”) may, for a period of one year from their termination of office or employment, lobby, solicit business from, consult with, or advise (for payment, profit or not, on their own behalf, or on behalf of third parties) any City Board, City Administration Official or Department, or the City Council. No City Official may, for a period of one year, represent a third party before any City entity, Board, Council or Administration where the former City Official practiced or worked.” The question goes on to state that “No part of the stated clause should be interpreted to bar or limit any citizen from addressing the City Council for or upon their own personal interests or matters.”

The ninth charter amendment question addresses removal from city boards, bodies, and commissions and spells out that the City Council holds the authority to remove any appointed member of a city board, body, or commission if such member is determined to have engaged in misconduct, criminal activity, for violating the Code of Ethics/Conduct of the City, or otherwise violating their oaths of office. It adds the city’s website and social media accounts to the list of entities where notices concerning public hearings for forfeiture of office is listed.

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