Freeport Town Charter: Voters to consider 5 amendments

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FREEPORT — Residents will have an opportunity to vote on five amendments to the Town Charter on Nov. 2.

The vote follows several council workshops, two failed citizen petitions to overturn a council decision to consolidate dispatch services with Brunswick, and a Human Rights complaint on behalf of residents with disabilities.

Question 1 would make technical changes to modernize and create consistency throughout the charter. It would remove references to the School Committee and add references to Regional School Unit 5.

Question 2 would more clearly define the legal principals for appointing and removing a town manager.

Question 3 would clarify Town Council procedures and duties. A provision would be added to distinguish between orders ordinances and resolves, and a provision limiting the timing of adoption of the capital program is removed.

Question 4 would increase thresholds for approval of expenditures. Contracts under $100,000 would not require council authorization, and capital improvement bonds under $100,000 would not require voter authorization.

Question 5 would accommodate people with disabilities. Petition processes would be updated to include “reasonable accommodations,” so that a qualified person with a disability may have a petition delivered in person for signature. The provision prohibiting discrimination against town employees and officials would be updated to include people with disabilities, and a new provision would be added indicating the town has adopted and would maintain a comprehensive accommodation policy.

The last amendment is the result of a complaint filed with the Maine Human Rights Commission by Marianne McGettigan, a resident with multiple sclerosis who said she was not offered accommodations when she was unable to travel to Town Hall to sign a petition to overrule the dispatch agreement.

Under the existing charter, a petition to overturn a council decision has to be signed in the presence of the town clerk or deputy clerk at the clerk’s office. Some residents said this requirement prevents housebound residents from participating.

Residents can vote on Nov. 2 at the Freeport High School on Holbrook Street. Polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m.

Amy Anderson can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or [email protected]