Mechanic Falls charter question before voters

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MECHANIC FALLS — The future of the traditional annual town meeting will be decided on Election Day.

In addition to the state ballot, townspeople will receive a second ballot that asks whether they accept or reject the amendments to the Town Charter as proposed by the Charter Commission.

The commission is recommending doing away with the traditional town meeting as the format for how townspeople set their town budget. The annual May gathering would be replaced by referendum voting, held on primary election day in June.

Under the commission’s proposal, Town Manager John Hawley, working with department heads, would still prepare a town budget. The Town Council and  Budget Committee would maintain their traditional roles of refining and making changes and recommendations. A public hearing would be held, allowing townspeople to express their opinions before the budget goes to a secret ballot.

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The budget would be broken out in the same format as warrant articles traditionally brought before the annual town meeting. Voters would, by secret ballot, accept or reject the separate items.

“The process would stay the same prior to the vote. All that’s really eliminated is the debate on the town meeting floor,” Hawley said.

The Charter Commission is also recommending that a recall provision, whereby townspeople could remove elected officials, be added to the Town Charter.

The Charter Commission also eliminated from the charter all references to a municipal school district, now that the town has joined Minot and Poland in Regional School Unit 16.

All of the Charter Commission’s recommendations will be accepted or rejected in a single yes or no vote.

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