Change the Charter!!!

Monday, 12 September 2005
The Association of Portsmouth Taxpayers is supporting a petition requesting the City Council change the charter. The proposed change would require a 2/3 majority of the council to approve the annual budget, the same majority as is required for all spending items not included in the budget. To sign the charter, please drop by John’s Barbershop at 95 Daniel St. or come to the September 21st APT meeting.

Require a Supermajority for $71MM.

The City Charter currently requires a 2/3 vote of the Council to approve spending items not included in the annual budget, for example to approve a $200,000 new fire truck. However, the charter is silent on the number of Councilors required to pass the annual budget so only a majority vote is required to approve a massive $71MM budget. If the council fails to approve a budget on time, the proposed budget automatically goes through. Does this make sense?

Remedying this situation should help this rein in future tax increases. We can make this happen through a change in the City Charter. The APT is putting its support behind a petition to our Councilors for a change to the charter.

The Charter change petition reads as follows:

Each of the undersigned voters respectfully requests the municipal officers to provide for the amendement of the municipal charter as set out below. Amend the charter (1 Jan 1988) Section 7-13 which presently reads as follows: “The Budget shall be adopted not later than the last day of the fiscal year. Should the Council take no further action on or prior to such day, the budget as submitted, shall be deemed to have been finally adopted by the Council.”

AMEND TO READ: The vote necessaray for adoption shall be by two-thirds (2/3) majority of the Council. The Council failing a 2/3rds adoption vote by 30 June of the current fiscal year, the budget of the present fiscal year shall automatically be adopted and increased by the federal cost of living (cola) in effect on 1 January of the calendar year, as determined by the Social Security Act for Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.

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