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Charter changes going to council Sept. 26



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September 19, 2011
SOUTHBRIDGE — The Town Council might want to clear its agenda for the Sept. 26 meeting because the big issue is likely to spark some controversy — changing the charter.

A little more than a year after the Charter Review Committee turned in its proposal for several changes to the town's "constitution," and a few weeks after the General Government Subcommittee reviewed it, the issues the two panels are proposing will see the light of day.

They agree on some points, but disagree on others. In total, 14 changes are being proposed, four of which were in the CRC's original report. If the council approves any of them, those concepts will go to the Legislature, but not become law until the voters also approve them on a town ballot.

"The General Government Subcommittee saw the report by the Charter Review Committee as containing what appear to be subtle changes to the balance of the original charter placing more power into the council's and council chairperson's hands and taking away executive power from the manager," wrote GG Chairman Larry Spinelli in his preamble to his panel's report. "This would have the effect of politicizing the system of checks and balances and take power away from the people."

Specifically, he was referring to CRC proposals to give the council "executive" authority, the chairperson appointment power over the town attorney, eliminate citizen voting rights on subcommittees, and remove council term limits.

For more on this story, please see tomorrow's Southbridge Evening News.

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