Saco voters will decide Nov. 8 if they want to amend the city charter to allow a city mayor to be able to have a ceremonial office at City Hall. Tammy Wells Photo

SACO — Local voters will decide Nov. 8 whether they want the city of Saco to have the ability to provide a ceremonial office in City Hall for the mayor, at a location to be determined by the city administrator.

The mayor’s City Hall office would be used only for official functions.

An amendment to the Saco Charter would be needed for the proposal  to be instituted, hence the Nov. 8 vote.

A public hearing on the matter Monday drew no public comment, but two of the six councilors present expressed reservations. In the end, the vote was four in favor of sending the matter to a Nov. 8 vote, and two — Philip Hatch and Nathan Johnston — against. Councilor Jim Purdy was absent.

“I do have concerns about the potential impact that presence would have on staff,” said Hatch of his decision against supporting the measure.

“I think this is unnecessary,” said Johnston. “We haven’t had a mayor’s office since the 1970s when this community chose a manager-council form of government. It’s never been needed.”


Johnston pointed out City Hall has a conference room that the mayor or any elected official could use, and said he shared Hatch’s concerns.

He noted a mayoral office in City Hall could create perceptions to the public and to the staff of the mayor’s role in the city, should some future mayor decide to use the office on a daily basis.

He noted the charter states the mayor has no administrative role.

According to the Saco City Charter, the mayor “shall be the chief executive officer of the city and shall be recognized as the head of the head of city government.”

The mayor presides over meetings of the City Council and of the school board and votes only in the event of a tie.

The mayor has some veto power over appropriations, the charter notes, but the City Council has the authority to reconsider a proposal and if approved by five of the seven councilors “it shall have the same validity as signed by the mayor.”


The mayor appoints and the City Council confirms all members of municipal boards and commissions.

The charter notes that the mayor has no administrative power except those granted by the charter and that the mayor is tasked with meeting frequently with the city administrator and keeping the council informed of  the progress of all City Council directives, the general financial standing of the city, status of all negotiations, and the like.

The proposal that will go to the voters was amended. It was originally written to take effect on Jan. 1, 2023, a provision Mayor William Doyle said was based on the opinion of the city solicitor. Councilors agreed to have the measure take effect Jan. 1, 2024, should it pass muster with Saco voters.

The mayoral office proposal was introduced by Councilor Joseph Gunn, who said he agreed with the proposed change in the start date, because he wanted to avoid any perception he was trying to secure a City Hall office space for a particular mayor.

If approved by voters, according to information included in City Council packets, the charter would be amended to include: “The City can provide a ceremonial office in City Hall for the Mayor, for the conduct of official functions only, at a location determined by the City Administrator.” 

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