There is a two-page ballot, printed on both sides, asking registered voters to vote on 7 proposed amendments to the Town Charter. These charter amendments come up for a vote about once every 10 years. This article is for the purpose of explaining what these Charter Amendments mean to the residents of Scarborough.

Question 1 – The stipends for Town Council and School Board members has not been increased in at least the last 20 years. This amendment is asking residents whether they approve of increasing the stipends for Town Council and Board of Education members by $1000 to $2,500 for board members and $2,750 for chairs. These stipend increases will not be effective until after the election in November of 2024.

Question 2 – Currently the Charter requires that the Town Audit be received no later than December 30th following the end of the municipal year. This deadline often is not met especially before the work on the succeeding budget has been completed. This amendment will require to the Town Council to receive the Town Audit prior to the budget process for the succeeding year or as feasible.

Question 3 – Currently, if there a vacancy occurs within 6 months prior to the next regular Town election, the Board of Education decides if an election will be held to fill that vacancy. Since it is the Town that conducts elections, the proposed amendment will leave the option as to whether to fill that vacancy to the Town Council with a recommendation of the Board of Education.

Question 4 – Currently the Town is required to provide to the public certain budget information. The proposed amendment will requires that the Town provide more specifies on (1) the financial condition of the Town; (2) a five-year capital and (3) any contributions, donations, or gifts to non-government organizations included in the budget.

Question 5 – Currently Board of Education members are elected in November along with all other elected officials. This means that new Board of Education members elected in November must wait until October of the following year to attend the training necessary to make them informed Board members. Further, electing Board of Education members at the beginning of the budget process for the following year allows the new members to fully participate in that process, hold incumbents accountable for the budget being voted on and hopefully brings out more voters for the school budget vote. The Board of Education representative on the Charter Review Committee fully supports this.

Question 6 – Currently the Town Council must submit for referendum the issues of general obligation bonds in an amount greater than $400,000 for a single capital improvement or purchase from funds derived solely from municipal revenue sources. These proposed revisions will require the Council to send more items out for a vote of the taxpayers and attempts to close previous loopholes in the referendum process. In addition to 2 editorial revisions, these revisions will require the Town Council to hold a referendum on all long-term financial obligations in addition to capital improvements, on issues for a single item of capital equipment in the principal amount of $600,000 or greater, whether or not the full amount of such securities are issued in one fiscal year or over multiple fiscal years, or a lease of equipment, structure or real property for a period of longer than 5 years or if the total amount to be paid by the Town of the term of the lease is greater than $600,000.

Question 7 – Currently the Town Charter only provides that a person, whether elected or appointed who may have a conflict of interest must raise that conflict for him/herself. The proposed revision allows a fellow board member to raise the issue of a potential conflict of interest and request that the person who may have such conflict disclose the nature and extent of such interest.

The Charter Review Committee was a diverse group of fellow citizens who spent about a year reviewing the entire current Charter. These proposals represent hearty discussions, consideration of all points of view and compromise to arrive at a final document I am urging all voters to support. While I served as secretary to the Charter Review Committee, this summary has not been reviewed by all members of the Committee nor is an endorsement by the Committee.

Comments are not available on this story.