In their meeting of September 13, Camden’s Charter Commission members voted unanimously (8-0-1 absent) to approve their Final Report and their recommended revisions to the 40-year-old Town Charter.
On September 21, Camden’s Charter Commission presented the Final Report to the Select Board. The revised Charter is now ready to be voted on by the citizens on November 2 as Article 4.
Our town’s Charter is similar to a constitution and like a constitution has to be updated to reflect the current and future needs of the Town as well as incorporating changes in State standards. It outlines how our Town government works such as: the executive and policy setting functions that rest with the Select Board, the Town Manager’s responsibility for the day-to day administrative functions including supervising the department heads, and how the Legislative Branch is the voters who approve expenditures, borrowing, and any changes and updates to the Comprehensive Plan, Land Use Ordinances, and Police Ordinances.
Camden is one of 135 Maine municipalities that has a Town Meeting/Select Board/Town Manager form of government. Our proposed revisions include maintaining that form of government. Keeping the Town Charter current with the times is essential to the health and well-being of what is considered the most basic and purest form of democratic governance.
The Charter Commission urges Camden voters to visit the Town Website (https://www.camdenmaine.gov/select_board/boards___committees/camden_charter_commission.php) to read the draft and review the “Highlights” of the proposed revisions. Printed copies of the proposed revised Charter can be found at the Town Office and the Camden Public Library.
An additional informational meeting on the proposed Charter will be held in the John French Conference room on Washington Street Wednesday, Oct. 13, at 5:45 p.m. to explain the changes and to answer any questions the public might have. Any questions or comments may be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
There are some changes that warrant particular attention, such as changes to the structure of the Budget Committee—streamlining the nomination process and reducing the number of members from 21- 25 to 11. Budget Committee members would serve up to three, three-year consecutive terms versus the current prohibition of consecutive terms. (Article 6)
We transitioned the elected Personnel Board to an advisory Personnel Committee appointed by the Select Board reflecting the change in their role as a result of the adoption of Camden’s Personnel Policy Manual in 1992. (Article 4)
Part-time employees would no longer be allowed to serve on the Select Board, eliminating potential conflicts of interest. The forfeiture of office and notification of forfeiture with three unexcused absences of a Select Board member were added. (Article 2)
We expand funding options for capital improvement in the Waste Water Department to include user service charges. (Article 5)
A new section was added on the management of the Town’s Endowment Funds and Gifts that codifies existing procedures. (Article 6) We added a new article on Growth and Long-Range Planning. (Article7)
We added guidelines for establishing and discontinuing advisory committees. (Article 2)
Realizing the need to provide a process to ensure another forty years did not go by before revisiting the Charter we added provisions for the systematic review and potential revisions to the Town Charter every five years. (Article 2)
The format of the Charter has been revised to make it easier to access the information in the various articles, including an expanded Glossary to assist the citizens in using the Charter.
We believe that the Charter has been substantially improved with these revisions and therefor encourage the Citizens of the Town of Camden to vote in favor of the Charter revisions either in person at the polls on November 2 or by requesting an absentee ballot from the Town office.
Respectfully submitted the Town of Camden’s Charter Commission,
Deb Dodge, Chair
Lowrie Sargent, Vice-Chair