Public hearing set for proposed Brattleboro charter change

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BRATTLEBORO >> Brattleboro voters will be asked to consider a series of proposed charter amendments during the Town Meeting Day election on March 3.

Brattleboro resident Kurt Daims presented three petitions to Town Clerk Annette Cappy this week, requesting that the proposed changes be put before voters during the March election. As required under state statute, the Selectboard will hold two public hearings on the proposed amendments on Jan. 20 at 6:15 p.m. in the Selectboard meeting room and on Jan. 29 at 5:15 p.m. in the town offices. If any of the proposed charter changes are approved by voters, the amendments will be passed on to the Legislature for final approval.

Daims is asking voters to consider the town charter amendments, which include a change that would allow 16-year-old Brattleboro residents to vote at Town Meeting. He also wants to give residents the power to ask for a town wide referendum, with a minimum of 250 signatures, on any article considered by Town Meeting Representatives that exceeds $2 million An additional proposed charter change would limit to six years the amount of time residents can serve as a member of Representative Town Meeeting.

Additional amendments would require local business owners to provide their employees up to two hours of paid leave to vote, and re-establish a Town Grand Juror who Daims said would enforce the paid-leave charter ordinance.

Daims said his proposed charter amendments were submitted to counteract a number of charter changes that were approved in 2011 that Daims said restricts freedom of speech and public participation in town government.

"I was very unsatisfied with the changes that were made," said Daims. "The Town Meeting Reps restricted the rights of the people. We ended up with very undemocratic changes."

The Brattleboro Town Charter Commission met for three years and Town Meeting Reps were asked to approve 33 changes to the charter at special Representative Town Meeting in January 2011.

Daims said some of the changes that were approved in 2011 actually made it harder for voters to ask for a referendum, and he said his proposed revisions would restore the rights that were he said were changed in the 2011 charter revision.

"They restricted how people are allowed to ask for a vote," Daims said. "We want to restore those rights."

Howard Weisss-Tisman can be contacted at 802-254-2311 ext. 279.


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