Learn About the Proposed Watertown Charter Changes at Ice Cream Social

A resident group will host an ice cream social where people can learn about the proposed changes to the document that spells out how Watertown’s government operates, as well as about the group. Watertown Forward will host the ice cream social on Friday, Sept. 10 from 4 to 6 p.m. at Arsenal Park, 485 Arsenal St. The group will discuss the proposed Charter changes that will be on the ballot in the Nov. 2 Town Election.

Charter Review Group Discusses How Planning, Zoning Board Members are Appointed

The Town of Watertown’s Zoning Map. With development in Watertown being a topic of controversy for the past decade, the Charter Review Committee examined how the two boards overseeing building and development are appointed. At the June 29 meeting of the Charter Review Committee, resident member Marcia Ciro proposed an amendment to the Town Charter, which would change the way the members of the Planning Board and Zoning Board of Appeals are appointed. Currently the Town Manager makes the nominations for appointment, and the Council votes to confirm, or not, the person. Ciro proposed having the Town Council appoint the members of both boards.

Recommended Charter Change Would Allow Council to Hire Staff, Committee Looks at Requiring Open Forums for Councilors

Charlie BreitroseWatertown’s Town Hall. The Town Council should be able to hire its own staff or consultants without having to ask the Town Administration for funding, the Charter Review Committee decided Tuesday night. Also, Tuesday, the Committee recommended changing the Charter, which spells out how the Town’s government operates, to add more details about how the Town Council sets policies. Hiring Staff

The members of the Charter Review Committee agreed that the Council should be able to hire assistants, but they disagreed on the best way to specify it in the Charter, and how much detail should be included. One of the proposals presented by Michael Ward, the consultant from the Collins Center, was to specify hiring an analyst, with a second recommendation which would enable the Council, by passing an ordinance, to hire more staff that it deems necessary.

Watertown Voters Will Continue to Directly Elect Council President After Vote by Charter Review Committee

Watertown Town Hall

Voters in Watertown will continue to elect the Town Council President directly, rather than having the position chosen by a majority of the Council. The decision was made by the Watertown Charter Review Committee on Tuesday night. The decision came on the same night that members discussed the makeup of the Town Council and the councilor compensation. Also, if the Council President should serve on the School Committee, or have a designee. The group reviewing the document that defines how the Town’s government operates looked at the Legislative section of the Charter on Tuesday.

Town Charter Changes Proposed to Allow Council to Hire Staff, Hold a State of the Town Meeting Annually

Watertown Town Hall

Allowing the Town Council to hire staff to help them with their work, adding language to spell out the Council’s power, and requiring annual State of the Town meetings are some of the changes being considered by the Watertown Charter Review Committee. The Committee began looking at ways to alter the current Town Charter Tuesday, at the first meeting following their vote to keep the current form of government with a Town Council and the Town Manager serving as the executive rather than changing to one with a mayor as the executive. Assistants for the Council

The Committee’s consultant, Michael Ward from UMass Boston’s Collins Center, brought up some possible changes to address concerns raised at previous meetings. One issue raised was the Council’s ability to do its work, and having enough capacity to handle the duties of the Council. One way Ward suggested to address that issue was adding a piece to the Legislative section of the charter which would allow the Town Council to hire staff to help them with areas such as research into municipal issues, financial analysis or other areas.