Hampden voters to decide charter changes on Election Day

Posted Oct. 29, 2013, at 9:14 p.m.
Last modified Oct. 30, 2013, at 6:50 a.m.

HAMPDEN, Maine — In addition to electing local officials, residents on Nov. 5 will weigh in on four proposed amendments to their town charter and consider an ordinance authorizing the town to borrow up to $902,050 for sewer system projects

Town Manager Susan Lessard said Tuesday that the proposed charter changes are the result of town councilors’ review of sections of the document dealing with the council and elections.

The first ballot question relates to how many meetings a councilor can miss during a rolling 12-month period before losing their seat.

“I think the council believes [absences have] been an issue in the past,” Lessard said. “In the past, there have been difficulties getting quorums.” Councilors now may miss up to three consecutive regular meetings or up to six regular meetings per year without being excused by their fellow council members.

If voters approve the amendment, absences from special meetings would count and the total absences would apply to the prior 12-month period.

“Before, you could have missed [the maximum number of meetings] and on Jan. 1st, you get a clean slate again,” Lessard said. “It is a cleaner way for the council to deal with the issue of attendance.”

The second proposed amendment seeks to clarify which state statutes apply to the conduct of elections. The current version of the charter cites a title that no longer is relevant, Lessard said. The statute exists but its number has changed.

The third amendment would clean up language in the charter provision addressing councilors at large, who are elected in a townwide vote, and district councilor, who represent four different parts of the town, Lessard said.

The fourth and final amendment would clarify which state statutes apply to election provisions relating to the qualifications of voters, registration and the duties of election officers, Lessard said.

The polls will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. in the Hampden Municipal Building community room, located at the back of the Public Safety addition.

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