Gray Town Charter End of Floor Sessions Amendment (2009)
The Gray Town Council voted 4-1 to put the ballot item on the November ballot, although there was some question about whether the Town Council had the authority to refer a charter change to the ballot. Gray has a population of about 7,000 people.
The measure was approved.
|Gray Town Charter Amendment|
Town residents voted whether or not to end the traditional town format currently outlined in Gray's town charter. Sections 10 and 11 of the 2009 town charter said:
Section 10. Regular Meetings. The Council shall, at its first meeting or as soon thereafter as possible, establish by resolution a regular place and time for holding its regular meetings, and shall meet regularly at least once a month. It shall also provide a method for calling special meetings. The Town Council shall post an agenda at least seven (7) days prior to regularly scheduled Town Council meetings.
Section 11. Rules of Procedure; Journal. The Council shall determine its own rules of business. A record of the Council's proceedings shall be kept and the records shall be open to public inspection.
Councilors that supported the charter change said they should not prevent residents from having the final say on the matter. Others noted that a Gray digital divide existed, where emails they received supported the change while comments in general were split down the middle. “I just feel that it’s time,” Councilor Margaret Hutchings said.
Opponents described the move away from debating budget articles to having town spending decided only by ballot votes as stripping away a part of Gray’s democratic underpinnings. “It’s a Maine tradition that needs to be preserved,” Patricia Watson said.
Several town residents questioned if the council had the authority to put such a question on the ballot for voters to decide in the first place. Some residents said a move like that should come from a citizen-initiated petition.
Richard Watson argued that removing the floor session of town meeting is “taking away a right of the people” in a world of shrinking access to government.
- Town of Gray Official Website
- Town of Gray: Town Charter
- State of Maine Official Website
- A Citizen's Guide to Town Meetings