AUBURN — The folks that drafted the city’s charter didn’t make a mistake when they made all the City Council seats go up for election at the same time.

“From my experience as mayor, there are times you may want to throw all the bums out,” former Mayor Richard Trafton told councilors Monday. “There are reasons for change.”

Councilors heard a report from Trafton and former Mayor John Cleveland about the thinking behind the 2005 draft of the charter. Both sat on the committee that drew it up.

Mayor Jonathan LaBonte said the city is not officially expected to review the charter for another five years, but occasional reviews and periodic updates were useful.

Councilor Joshua Shea asked why the group favored having all eight members of the council — the seven councilors and mayor — all go up for election every two years.

“Last year, five of the eight us were new,” Shea said. “The learning curve was steep, and add to that we didn’t have a city manager. Throw in a double-sheet ice arena project on top of that and it feels like that first year was largely a loss.”

Trafton said the charter commission did consider staggered terms. It would have meant terms of up to four years for councilors or elections every year.

“Four years is a large, hard commitment to make,” Trafton said. “The feedback we received was to keep it at two years. By making that decision, the idea of staggering was tough to do. We chose not to stagger them because it would require an election every single year. You, as a council, know elections cost money, so we decided staggered terms were not an option.”

Councilors also had questioned the recall provisions. They came to light last month after a group tried to file an effort to unseat the members of the School Committee.

The city attorney issued an opinion saying people filing a petition to recall city officials need to gather 15 percent of voters citywide — even for ward seats.

Trafton said Monday that was an incorrect reading. His reading of the charter said they’d need 15 percent of the registered voters within the individual officials’ ward.

“That is unclear,” Mayor LaBonte said.

LaBonte said he also wanted to see the city staff begin preparing service-based budgets that provide broad details about what services actually cost, rather than get deep into departmental spending. Trafton confirmed that kind of a budget is called for in the charter, LaBonte and City Manager Clinton Deschene said staff has never prepared a budget that fits charter criteria.

They need to, LaBonte said.

“We did not have that this year when we adopted our budget on June 24,” LaBonte said. “We didn’t have public works budget that had the costs for recycling. So when the hatchet came, we cut a big number from public works and then we learned the next day what that meant.”

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