Letter: Charter, not council, governs assessing in Falmouth

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The Falmouth Town Council is presently negotiating a contract to outsource our assessing operations. I, along with many others, have voiced our concerns, directly to the council, and our comments have been well received and thoughtfully considered.

However, the reason I write now is more fundamental than whether we should outsource this fundamental government function, and more to the point, whether this shift of government services is permissible without a vote to amend our Town Charter.

Our charter recognizes the integral function of tax administration and expressly creates a Division of Assessing, headed by a town assessor. Moreover, our charter specifically limits the council’s authority to dissolve any unit of government created by the charter, i.e., the Division of Assessing.

In other words, our charter recognizes that there are some government services that are “more equal” than others, and as such, require the approval of the voters to alter or amend. The Division of Assessing is one such service.

Whatever the merits of the proposal may be, this is a decision that must be made by the people. Accordingly, if the council believes in the logic and wisdom of transitioning to regional assessing services, it is my hope that they adhere to the edicts of the charter and let the people decide whether amending the charter to accommodate such a change is in our collective best interests.

Jonathan Berry