Bath council sends charter changes to referendum

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BATH — Along with electing four city councilors, residents on Nov. 4 will also decide several changes proposed to the City Charter.

A hearing on the matter Monday drew no public comment. The council voted 6-1, with Councilor David Sinclair opposed, to send all six amendments to referendum.

One would change the time of the council’s annual organizational meeting, held in December, from 7:30 p.m. to the usual 6 p.m. start time of other meetings.

Another would allow notification of special meetings to be sent to councilors via email, with verification of receipt.

A third would allow the city manager to live outside of Bath.

Sinclair proposed the latter amendment be removed. He said a manager living outside the city would not necessarily be living under the conditions that he or she helped to create, such as frequency of snow removal, or how many people staff the police and fire departments.

“I think these are … questions that go right to the quality of life in the city,” Sinclair said. “And I think it’s important to have someone in a leadership role with the city that’s actually got some skin in the game.”

Sinclair’s motion was not seconded. Councilor Andrew Winglass acknowledged that Sinclair made some good points, but suggested voters decide the matter.

Councilor Sean Paulhus’s motion to add language allowing the council to waive the requirement at its discretion also was not seconded.

A fourth amendment would exempt revenues from the municipal expenditure cap  that have been obtained and used for project expenses connected to a tax increment financing district. Another would allow alternate ward clerks and wardens to serve at elections when the usual appointees are unavailable.

The final amendment would bring city elections with write-in candidates in line with Maine law, eliminating a requirement for tallying such candidates in most situations.

“At the end of the night, the declared write-ins would be recognized by the (tallying) machine,” City Clerk Mary White explained at the meeting. But the election clerks “wouldn’t be reading ‘Mickey Mouse,’ ‘Abraham Lincoln’; you get these all the time. You would be actually tallying people who really count, that really want the job.”

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

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A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.