ERIN STEWART: New Britain Charter revision process explained

Published on Wednesday, 4 May 2022 10:27

New Britain Mayor

Over the past couple of months I have publicly mentioned that the city is in the process of considering multiple proposed changes to our Charter. The city’s Charter is the guiding document that serves as the foundation for so much that goes on here in New Britain, so it is crucial that document is updated to reflect the modern times in which we live.  

The changes to the Charter currently being considered include but are not limited to allowing for the creation and requirement of a chief operations officer position for the city, return minority party representation on the Common Council (which was eliminated in 2001), making the town clerk and tax collector professional positions rather than elected ones, and including language requiring that the Charter must be revised no less than every five years. The last time the Charter was revised was 2016.  

Revising a City Charter is an important process, and residents should have a clear understanding of how changes to our city’s guiding document are made. First, the Common Council and I appointed members to the Charter Revision Committee and charged them with looking at the previously mentioned elements of the Charter. The Committee is allowed to discuss any piece of the Charter, but they have to at least examine those specific topics.  

In March, the Charter Revision Committee held a public hearing so that residents could weigh in on the charge presented to the Committee by myself and the Council, or present any additional suggestions they might have had. Since then, the Charter Revision Committee has met multiple times, with public participation available at the beginning of each meeting, to develop a draft report. The Committee will hold another public meeting on May 10 to discuss the draft report before submitting their report to the Common Council.  

The Common Council will then hold a public meeting to discuss the draft report submitted to them by the Charter Revision Council, and decide to either accept the report or suggest changes. The Council can only revise what is already in the report they cannot make additional changes that were not put forward by the Charter Revision Committee. Once the Council decides to move forward with the report, they will set the questions that will appear on the ballot for residents to vote on in November.  

The voters ultimately have the final say on the proposed changes to the City Charter on Election Day in November. If a majority of residents are in favor of the Charter revisions, then those changes are implemented immediately unless a specific date is otherwise noted. 

Erin Stewart is the mayor of New Britain

Posted in New Britain Herald, Columns, New Britain on Wednesday, 4 May 2022 10:27. Updated: Wednesday, 4 May 2022 10:30.