Letter: Charter Review Committee seeks input from public

On Tuesday, November 28, at 5:30 p.m., the Bennington Charter Review Committee will hold a public forum at the Bennington Fire House. We want to hear from the citizens of Bennington. Much information is on the Town of Bennington website with regard to the work the Charter Review Committee has done to date: benningtonvt.org/meetings/charter-review-committee/

The committee is working its way through the eighteen-page, eight-section Town Charter document, section by section, line by line. The committee has heard from a limited number of citizens, some people are interested in seeing changes to certain sections, some think things should stay the way they are, and we have also been made aware of a petition circulating to put a mayoral form of government on the ballot. In addition, the committee has heard from Fire Department members with regard to a recommendation to insert language in the charter that would allow the Select Board to use volunteer or paid fire departments, should that need ever arise.

The committee has discussed changes to the powers of the Select Board, Town Manager and taxation sections. Some examples of recommended changes include: an annual performance review of the Town Manager; a three-year term contract for the town manager, which may be renewed for successive three-year terms; specific language has been recommended to address absenteeism of Select Board members; and other recommendations reflect current law. The committee has made reference in the charter to Vermont statutes so it is clear where there is state law. In addition, discussions have taken place around intrusive technologies, including drones, in order to provide a balance between recreational interests, commercial opportunity, law enforcement, and the protection of fundamental rights of citizens. These are few examples of the in depth discussions the committee has had.

Our work has been thoughtful and deliberate. The committee members are open minded and willing to listen to all points of view. Our charge is to recommend changes to the Select Board, their charge will be to consider the committee's recommendations as a whole or in part, then any changes to the Town Charter will be voted on by the citizens of Bennington.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Sean-Marie Oller

Co- chair, Bennington Charter Review Committee


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