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Proposed Cumberland County Charter on tour

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Proposed Cumberland County Charter on tour

PORTLAND — The Cumberland County Charter Commission will host a series of public hearings to gather feedback on a proposed charter that has been in the works for the past year and a half.

County voters elected six members to the Charter Commission in November 2008; two more were appointed by county commissioners. Cumberland County has never had a charter, instead operating under rules set by the Legislature about 250 years ago.

The commission has been holding hearings since May in municipalities throughout the county. July 8 at 6:30 p.m. the commission will be at Brunswick Town Hall to discuss the proposed charter. Subsequent hearings are scheduled in Gorham and Raymond, before the commission begins the approval process in August.

The draft charter suggests several changes to the way county government operates.

The commission is proposing to eliminate the elected positions of treasurer and register of deeds. The county has had a finance director for several years who handles financial operations. The elected treasurer has limited duties, including signing checks.

The proposed charter would increase districts in the county from three to seven. Increasing the number of districts would reduce the number of people each commissioner represents. Currently, each of the three commissioners represent about 90,000 people. If increased to seven districts, each commissioner would represent about 39,000 residents.

That would be on par with other Maine counties.

The Gorham hearing is scheduled for July 13 at 6:30 p.m. at Town Hall and the Raymond hearing will take place at 6:30 p.m. at the Jordan Small School portable.

On Aug. 5, the Charter Commission is expected to vote on final language for the proposed charter and forward the recommendation to the County Commission. The County Commission is scheduled to vote Aug. 16 on final language. Both of those meetings will happen at the Cumberland County Courthouse in Portland.

Voters will decide on the proposed charter on Nov. 2.

For more information and to view a summary of the draft charter, go to cumberlandcountychartercommission.org

Kate Bucklin can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or kbucklin@theforecaster.net