Charter and budget issues get added to local Rhode Island November ballot

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October 13, 2011

Rhode Island

PROVIDENCE, Rhode Island: Local communities continue to add to their November ballots. Additions to the November ballot include the City of Woonsocket, which added four charter amendments to their election ballot. The city requires that the charter be reviewed and updated, if needed, every ten years. A charter review committee met beginning in February 2011 till June and sought resident input. The first amendment approved by the city council for inclusion on the ballot is an amendment which would extend the term of bonds and long term notes to thirty years, currently the limit is twenty years. The second seeks to increase the amount of purchase made before the city must allow for competitive bidding, raising it from $2,000 to $5,000. The third would change the municipal election cycle, making them occur during even numbered years which would coincide with the state's election cycle. If this measure is approved, those who are elected during this cycle would serve three year terms and the new system would be in place starting in 2016. The last amendment seeks to make it that those appointed to positions must be residents of the city, unless the appointed position requires education or professional skills.[1]

In the town of Tiverton, a charter amendment seeks to change the current system of Financial Town Meetings to a system called the Financial Town Referendum. The new system, FTR, would allow anyone who is able to gather 50 signatures to submit their own proposal for the town budget. Opponents to the change note that if there are a lot of budget proposed, multiple elections would have to occur so that one budget received the majority and those budgets proposed by residents could potentially be devastating to the town. The current system allows for open debate about the proposed budget and then a vote by those residents who attend the meeting.[2]

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