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Weston Sets Public Hearing on Charter Revision

WESTON, Conn. – On Election Day in November, Weston voters won’t just vote for president. They’ll also vote on a new town charter that will establish the way town government operates and the way citizens interact with it.

The Board of Selectmen received the new charter prepared by the Charter Revision Commission on May 14 and has set a second public hearing for June 14 at 7:30 p.m. at Town Hall. Citizens will be able to discuss the key issues in front of the selectmen, who will then either approve the new charter as written or send it back to the commission for changes.

At the commission’s first public hearing citizens identified two key issues they may want changed: whether the town clerk and tax collector should be elected or appointed and whether the town should preserve the Annual Town Budget Meeting (ATBM) as a means of approving town budgets.

“I don’t know how they’ll play out,” First Selectman Gayle Weinstein said. “The commission stated that they’d like the town clerk position to stay elected and make the tax collector appointed. It’s like they’re splitting the difference to get a unanimous vote. So we’ll see what the public has to say about that.”

She said the ATBM issue is “very tricky. Half the people want to keep the ATBM and half want to get rid of it. And half the people say keep the referendum and half say no referendum because it costs the town too much money.”

The referendum is a machine vote on the budget that occurs after the ATBM, when a voice vote is held.

“For the past three years we’ve had a referendum vote on the operating budget, and once you put it in, it’s hard to take out,” Weinstein said. “I think it increases participation. But the ATBM is important, too, because it gives registered voters the chance to say they disagree with the budget and that’s the only opportunity they have. I want to preserve that because the town meeting is the basis for Weston government.”

Weinstein also said the selectmen will decide whether to make the November vote an up and down vote for the entire charter or separate provisions of it for individual votes. It will make that decision at its June 21 meeting after the public hearing on June 14.

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