Watertown Charter Review Update: Important Upcoming Meeting, Info on Process

Watertown’s Town Hall.

The following information was provided by Watertown Forward:

Important Upcoming Events and Opportunities to Weigh In

The next Charter Review Committee meeting on April 6 is particularly important. This will be aspecial Public Forumat which CRC members will hear the arguments and opinions of Watertown residents on what overall government structure they want — a Council/Manager (present form) or a Mayor/Council form of government. The CRC is expected to vote on the question — after any members of the public who want to offer their views have a few minutes to speak.

Watertown Forward is hosting a virtual meeting in advance of the CRC meeting, where people can learn about the two options. They will also provide some training about how to speak up and be an effective public advocate. The meeting is Friday April 2 5:30-7:30 pm. Check their website for a Zoom link or to watch the meeting later, if you can’t attend.

Watertown Forward also has a brief and anonymous online survey, where you can offer general views about what is and isn’t working in Watertown and what improvements are needed. The survey will be open for a few more weeks, so now is the chance to weigh in. You can find the survey here. The results will be shared with the Charter Review Committee and will be available on Watertown Forward’s website.

New to the Charter Review? Here’s the Big Picture

Watertown is currently in the midst of a major review of our Charter, which will determine how our city government works for years to come. The Charter is Watertown’s “constitution” and determines the operation of our municipal government – including the structure and responsibilities of the Town Council, the Town Manager, the School Committee, the Library Trustees, and other decision-making bodies. It outlines how elections are run and how the budget is developed. A Charter Review Committee, consisting of all 9 Town Councilors and 6 resident members, has been meeting since October. Their recommendations will go to the Town Council, and then will be voted on in next November’s elections. The timeline for the CRC’s discussions is uncertain, but most likely will be complete in June or July.

Major issues being discussed include:

  • Should we switch from a Town Manager/Town Council form of government to a Mayor/Town Council form?
  • Should we change the structure, the terms or the compensation of the Town Council?
  • How should power and responsibilities be balanced between the Town Council and the administration?
  • What changes might be made to promote accountability and responsiveness of the government?
  • What changes should be made to allow for public input? … and many other topics.

There are lots of other ways for Watertown residents to be involved and have their voices heard, including:

  • Attending regular Charter Review Committee meetings, typically on alternative Tuesdays at 6pm. Attend via Zoom or watch live or later on WCATV. You can stay informed about meeting dates and agendas by signing up for Notify Me here. The Committee’s website lists the Committee members and meeting dates, and provides useful information on the Charter Review in general.
  • Submitting your questionsand comments to the Charter Review Committee as a whole at CRC@watertown-ma.gov, or to individual members of the committee.
  • Taking the CRC’s Charter Review own online poll here.

About Watertown Forward

Watertown Forward is a non-partisan civic action group of residents whose mission is to educate and engage all of Watertown in the Charter Review process. Watertown Forward hosts Charter Chats on Zoom on the Sundays following each Charter Review meeting, to provide space for community conversations. Visit the website to learn more.

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