PITTSFIELD -- The Pittsfield Charter Review Study Committee wants city voters to make an all-or-nothing decision regarding a revised city charter.
By a 9-0 vote, with two members absent, the committee on Tuesday initially recommended the local electorate this fall accept or reject -- as a single document -- proposed changes to the charter.
While public support is mounting to vote on each revision individually, according to committee member Peter M. Marchetti, he feels a menu approach won't work.
"The reason this can't be piecemealed is [the changes] are all interconnected," he said.
The committee feels the time to debate the merits of each revision is during the charter review process, not at the ballot box.
"If anyone has any objections ... they should be here on April 16," said committee member David W. Murphy Jr.
Murphy was referring to the April 16 public hearing on the draft document at City Hall. Following the hearing, the 11-member ad-hoc panel hopes to take a final vote on the proposed changes to the charter and pass them along to the City Council, mayor and state Legislature for review in time for submission to voters in November. City officials and state lawmakers could also change or delete any of the recommendations before they are put to a vote on Nov. 5.
The council last fall charged the committee with conducting a thorough review of the charter, Pittsfield's governing document, which has been virtually unchanged for nearly
The committee has already taken several consensus votes on potential key changes to the city charter. Among the revisions being considered: Electing the mayor and city clerk to four-year terms, rather than two, eliminating the need for special acts of the state Legislature to consolidate city departments and grant "compensation" to six of the seven School Committee members. The mayoral is the seventh member by virtue of his position.
The committee didn't specify how the school board members -- the only elected city officials who are unpaid -- would be compensated.
The ad-hoc group has yet to take a consensus vote on the topics of citizen referendums and recall elections, neither of which is allowed in the current charter. That could come at the committee's April 2 meeting, following input from their consultant, who was absent from Tuesday's meeting.
The proposed recall provision would require 20 percent of the registered voters to sign a petition seeking the removal of the targeted elected official. If he/she refuses to resign, the recall would go forward, requiring at least 20 percent voter participation to validate the results.
As for citizen's petitioning for a citywide vote on a particular issue, such as the building of a new school, the process is lengthy and time consuming -- by design, according to the charter review board.
"If you make [the process] too easy, every time there's something people disagree with, the issue will be on the ballot," Marchetti said.
To reach Dick Lindsay:
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