Members of the Bourne Charter Review Committee have agreed to present their recommendations for charter changes during this fall’s Special Town Meeting. The committee decided to move forward with a warrant article based, in part, on the advice of Bourne Board of Selectmen chairman Peter J. Meier.
The committee’s decision came during the group’s remote meeting on September 15. Committee chairman Stephen F. Mealy noted that the warrant for the upcoming Special Town Meeting, scheduled for Monday, November 15, closes as of tomorrow.
Mr. Mealy said it was his understanding that the review committee would have to make a presentation of their finding to the board of selectmen prior to the closing date for the warrant. Mr. Meier assured him that would not be necessary and that the warrant could contain an open slot the committee’s article once it has been finalized.
“If you feel that you can do all that you can do and nothing’s going to change moving forward, then I would support having a placeholder and you going through the process of having an article for the November 15 Town Meeting,” Mr. Meier said.
Mr. Meier added that the committee has done “a lot of work,” and it would be counterproductive to recess the committee for now, only to have to ramp up again and members reacquaint themselves with the proposed changes in time for next spring’s Annual Town Meeting.
Mr. Mealy noted that last week’s meeting was the 36th for the committee. He said that he counted 21 interviews conducted with various individuals, notably town officials, and “a great deal of testimony.”
“I’m confident that we can provide the town with a very good review and a report,” he said.
Mr. Mealy also noted that the committee would not be recommending any significant changes to the charter. He said that any changes recommended by the group would be more of a reflection of today’s world compared to how things were when the last charter review took place, in 2015.
“It’s more or less to reflect where we are as a town today,” Mr. Mealy said, “and what the charter should be saying to run the town with today’s challenges and the availability of things like the internet, which in the past has been overlooked or not included.”
The charter review committee was established in September 2020. Committee members include Mr. Mealy; former Bourne School Committee member Anne-Marie Siroonian; Bourne Board of Health member Barbara J. Princiotta; Bourne Finance Committee and Capital Outlay Committee member Renee A. Gratis; Bourne Veterans Memorial Community Center Board of Trustees chairman Joseph P. Gordon; one-time selectman candidate Griffin R. Gerard; and Buzzards Bay resident Michael J. Carlowicz.
Charter review committees are required by state law and are formed every five years. The committee’s job is to review the charter; listen to comments from interested citizens, town officials and invited guests; and prepare a report for presentation to Town Meeting.
The charter defines Bourne’s form of government as having a professional town administrator who works for a part‐time and a five-member board of selectmen. Bourne’s charter also describes the duties, responsibilities and authority of most town boards, departments and officers.
The charter review committee cannot change the charter. Only a vote by residents at Town Meeting can do that. Also, the committee cannot recommend changing the basic form of government. Only a formal charter commission can do that.