Marlborough’s Town Charter is the key document that defines the organization, powers, functions and essential procedures of our town’s government. The Charter is, therefore, the most important legal document of Marlborough. Originally adopted almost 40 years ago, and despite two Charter Revision Commissions being seated and charged with revising the document, the efforts in 1997 and 2002 resulted in no changes being adopted by the Town.
In mid-May of 2017, the Board of Selectmen committed to another effort towards a partial Charter review and revision, and we seated a nine-member Commission who worked together for four months to address a few key portions of the Charter. The resulting recommendations included instituting a referendum which allows for all-day voting and the use of absentee ballots to vote on the annual budget, and also requires a full review of the Charter at least every ten years. The voters of Marlborough overwhelmingly approved the recommended changes, and in May of 2018, we were able to vote on the budget at referendum!
However, we have still have more to do to update the Charter to reflect the societal and economic changes that have happened over the past 40 years, to adjust for inflation, and to make our procedures less ambiguous and compliant with state statutes. Recognizing the need for such changes, the Selectmen and I have again committed to support a full review of the Town Charter. As the first step, we engaged Mark Pellegrini as a facilitator to hold interviews with personnel, Board and Commission members, and the public to help define which portions of the Charter would benefit most from careful review and possible revision. Mr. Pellegrini’s report, which was presented to the Board of Selectmen at our meeting on April 16th, click here to view report in its entirety.
If, after our discussion, the Board of Selectmen determines that a full Charter review is warranted, we will follow the state statutes to seat a balanced and objective Commission. We are fully committed to support the necessary discussions and deliberations that will improve how the Town of Marlborough functions in the years ahead. We intend to minimize the political “noise” that so often accompanies change in a small town, to allow for public participation, and to keep citizens informed as we move forward through this challenging, but worthwhile process.