City Council to vote on 3-word change to charter

  • Greenfield City Hall. Staff FILE PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 11/15/2019 11:00:46 PM
Modified: 11/15/2019 11:00:31 PM

GREENFIELD — The City Council will vote on a three-word change — adding “of any measure” — to the city charter Section 7-8 on the citizen referendum procedure at its Wednesday meeting.

The amendment to the charter was unanimously approved by the Appointments and Ordinances Subcommittee earlier this week. City Clerk Kathy Scott came before the subcommittee to give her recommendation on the proposed change.

The section of the charter outlines the citizen referendum process, which requires 10 percent of voters in the most recent biennial election, but not less than 2½ percent of all registered voters, to submit a petition against a measure to the city clerk’s office.

The proposed amendment is as follows with an emphasis on the changes: “If, not later than 30 days after the date on which the City Council or School Committee has voted to approved, of any measure, a petition which has addressed to the City Council or the School Committee ...”

The last time the charter amendments were before the subcommittee was in July, when a public hearing was held.

Scott said earlier this year, the error was discovered by a resident, which prompted the effort to correct it. She said City Council leadership agreed to look at a potential amendment.

“There was an error made by the state in the charter and the council would consider correcting the error,” Scott said. “We would send an amendment to the state so all that is being requested was that the council again vote the language they proposed two years ago.”

Since the error was discovered, two other councilors have proposed additional amendments to this and other sections of the charter, according to Scott.

“My suggestion is to correct the scriveners error now,” Scott said. “The charter outlines that in years ending in zero, next year, there will be a complete review of the charter. Whatever amendments the councilors proposed in sections 7-6,7-7 and 7-8, in my opinion, should be considered next year when the charter in totality is reviewed. Not at this time. This time is to correct the scriveners error.”

Precinct 6 City Councilor Sheila Gilmour, who chairs the Appointments and Ordinances Subcommittee, said she agreed with keeping the scope of the amendment narrowed to the three words “of any measure.”

Precinct Councilor 8 Doug Mayo also agreed.

“I believe we should just address ‘of any measure’ tonight and then deal with additional changes next year. We have to do it anyway, so it makes sense,” Mayo said. “That’s a larger piece of the pie. There will be more discussion on that.”

City Council Vice President Penny Ricketts motioned to change Section 7-8 to include “of any measure” and the subcommittee unanimously approved a positive recommendation to the council.

City Councilors Verne Sund, Ricketts, Mayo and Gilmour voted in favor. At-Large Councilor Isaac Mass was not present.

Scott said if City Council approves the amendment, the amendment will be sent to a local representative (in the past, it’s been sent to Rep. Paul Mark, D-Peru) within about a week. The state would then need to approve the amendment.

The full charter review is typically taken up by a City Council subcommittee, and includes input from the mayor, department heads, the city clerk and public, according to Scott. She estimated the full charter review wouldn’t be finalized until about November 2020.

Reach Melina Bourdeau at or 413-772-0261, ext. 263.


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