AUBURN — Voters will decide Nov. 8 whether to approve five amendments to the City Charter being recommended by the City Council and School Committee.

Two years ago, city officials formed a committee to review the charter, which is required every 15 years. It was decided to form an ad hoc panel of sitting councilors, instead of establishing an official charter commission, which could have led to more substantial changes in the structure of Auburn’s government.

The decision meant officials were limited in the revisions they could consider, the city’s legal counsel said.

A recent memo on the amendments said “the City Council felt that the current charter was solid and did not require revisions, therefore, a Charter Commission would not be necessary.”

Auburn initially considered proposing staggered terms for elected officials, but received a legal opinion that the move would have been deemed a substantial change, thus triggering the need for an elected charter commission.

Lewiston voters approved staggered terms — and more changes — last year without a charter commission.


The Auburn City Council and School Committee reviewed the charter and recommended a small number of changes. Most deal with language to better comply with other sections of the charter, or state law.

In the recent memo, City Clerk Sue Clements-Dallaire said the council found that the amendments “will not alter the general plans, schemes, or structure of the existing Charter language, will not result in a profound or fundamental alteration in the essential character or core operations of Auburn’s municipal government, and therefore constitute amendments to the Auburn City Charter which are within the purview of the Auburn City Council, as the municipal officers, to propose for consideration by the voters and that they are not revisions requiring the establishment of a Charter Commission.”

On the November ballot the proposed changes are marked with an underline for language that was added, and a strikethrough for proposed deletions.

The five questions are:

Question 1 refers to Section 4.2 of the charter, which lays out the composition of the School Committee. It adds a sentence stipulating that the nonvoting student representatives on the committee will be secondary students and will serve one year.

According to a memo from Clements-Dallaire, the council found that the proposed amendment “does not affect the composition nor voting authority of the School Committee but is simply designed to ensure that any student representatives are of sufficient capacity to meaningfully participate in the School Committee’s work.”


Question 2 is the first of two proposed tweaks to language relating to the superintendent of schools. It refers to a section of the charter on voting, which proposes to remove language that states that five affirmative votes are needed to approve hiring or firing the superintendent.

Question 3, also relating to the School Committee, says the committee shall choose a superintendent of schools in accordance with state statute 20-A, and would add language stipulating that the School Committee “may discharge the superintendent before the expiration of the contract term” in accordance with the same state statute.

According to Clements-Dallaire, the council found that the amendments to sections 4.7 and 4.9 “merely serve to conform the existing Charter language to Maine statutes governing the hiring and firing of the superintendent of schools.”

Questions 4 and 5 would remove two separate uses of the term “department of education” and replace it with “School Department.”

The memo says the changes “simply promote conformity and consistency in references to the Auburn School Committee throughout the Charter.”

For a sample ballot, click here.



Wards 1 and 2 vote at the Auburn Senior Community Center, 48 Pettengill Park Road.

Wards 3 and 4 vote at Auburn Hall, 60 Court St.

Ward 5 votes at the Boys and Girls Club, 43 Second St.

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