Charter Review Committee Votes to Keep Town Manager Form of Government

The Watertown Charter Review Committee voted strongly, but not unanimously Tuesday night, to keep the current form of government, with a Town Manager, rather than looking to change to one with a mayor. The meeting, held remotely, included more than 130 people at its peak, and the Committee heard from dozens of residents in over close to two hours of public comment. Types of Government

There are three forms of government in Massachusetts, the council with a manager (like Watertown’s current government), mayor with a council, and towns, which have town meetings made up of residents as the legislative branch and the select board (or board of selectmen) as the executive branch. Michael Ward, the committee’s consultant from UMass Boston’s Collins Center, said that Tuesday’s meeting focused on the manager and mayor forms.

That decision was made, Ward said, “Because there has been no mention of towns by this committee, and in the history of the city form in 200 years of the Commonwealth, no city chosen to return to town form of government.” Ward compared manager and mayor forms. With a manager, the council is elected and is the legislative body and is responsible for creating ordinances (like local laws) and passing the budget.

LETTER: Open Message to the Watertown Charter Review Committee

To the Honorable Members of the Charter Commission;

I’m writing to share thoughts on the current Charter Review. We’ve had the current form of City Government for 40 years. I believe for the most part that it has served us well. By the same token I understand some of the frustration expressed by those who would like to change the form. I’ve been actively involved in municipal “politics” for 15 or 16 years.

LETTER: Should Watertown Change Its Government & History of the Charter’s Creation

Greetings East Enders and Community-at-Large:

Forty years have come and gone since the Town Election on May 5, 1980 to vote on the ballot question to approve the Council-Manager form of government for the City Known as the Town of Watertown. Should the management of Watertown’s affairs continue as written in the Watertown Home Rule Charter (Charter)? Do we have transparency and accountability to the electorate? Do we need minor or major changes; or none at all? (See the Charter here : https://ecode360.com/36825791)

According to Article 8, Section 8-1 of the Charter; the Town Council shall provide for a review of the Charter, in every year ending in a zero/ten years.

Town Manager or Mayor?: Meeting Tuesday Could Change the Direction of Watertown’s Government

A vote that could make a major change in the way that Watertown’s government works will be taken at a meeting on April 6 at 6 pm. The Charter Review Committee, which is reviewing the document that defines how the Town’s government works, will be taking public input and questions, and likely make a vote on whether Watertown should continue to have an appointed Town Manager with an elected Town Council, or change to having and elected Mayor and elected Council. People can tune in and participate in the Zoom meeting on computer, cell phone or dial in. See this link for info on how to access the meeting: https://www.watertown-ma.gov/DocumentCenter/View/31800/2021-04-06-Charter-Review-Comm-Agenda

The meeting will also be broadcast on Watertown Cable’s Government Channel (view it here online or watch Comcast Channel 99 or RCN Channel 13). You can send comments and questions to crc@watertown-ma.gov All the Councilors are in the Charter Review Committee.

LETTER: Charter Review Needs Transparency, Should Consider All 3 Forms of Government

Watertown Town Hall

The following letter was sent by Marilyn Petitto Devaney, former-Town Councilor, former-Town Meeting member and current Governor’s Councilor:

The Watertown Charter Committee consists of nine elected town councilors and six residents appointed by the Council president who acts as chair. They are charged to conduct a 10 year review of the Watertown Charter. They are to review entire charter to determine if any changes should be made in the structure of the government in addition to other agenda — i.e. considering all forms of government. The committee publicly stated they would go through the charter completely, but have not. This committee has been having meetings on Zoom at 6 pm.

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 a special Public Forum at 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.

Vote on Whether Watertown Should Have a Mayor or Town Manager Coming Soon, Committee Wants Public’s Input

The committee looking at Watertown’s Town Charter, like the town’s constitution, will soon be making a vote on whether the Town government should continue with an appointed Town Manger as the chief executive, or whether it should have an elected Mayor. The Charter Review Committee announced Wednesday that it will take a vote at the April 6 meeting which will be hold remotely on Zoom beginning at 6 p.m.

The Committee seeks input from Watertown residents about which alternative they prefer, and people will have a chance to ask question and give their input during the April 6 meeting. The Charter Review Committee sent out the following announcement on Wednesday:

The Watertown Charter Review Committee Is Asking: Do You Want A Mayor or A Town Manager? Background:

Watertown’s Home Rule Charter (The Charter) is our “constitution.” The Charter establishes the framework for how our government operates: the form of government, its structure, functions, and processes, how public officials are elected, how the budget is developed, and the role citizens play in local government.

Watertown Charter Review to be Discussed at Watertown Citizens Group Meeting

The following announcement was provided by Watertown Citizens for Peace, Justice and the Environment:

The Watertown Citizens for Peace, Justice and the Environment will hold its March Monthly Meeting on March 17 at 7:00 pm, online. The link is posted on our website:  http://watertowncitizens.org/

Our March Monthly Meeting will feature a presentation by Janis Hudson, a member of the Steering Committee of Watertown Forward and a discussion facilitated by Watertown Citizen member, Abby Yanow. The meeting will be begin at 7:00 PM on Wednesday, March 17. You are welcome to join us for a chat at 6:45 pm. Watertown Forward is a non-partisan civic action group whose mission is to educate, empower, and engage the Watertown community in Watertown’s Charter Review process.