The Amherst Charter Commission posted this update today (May 7):
The Amherst Charter Commission (https://www.amherstma.gov/2248/Charter-Commission) voted 7-0 yesterday, (May 6) with one member abstaining and one absent, in favor of a government model including a town council and a town manager. Unlike previous proposals, this model would not include a mayor. Proposed components include precinct meetings with town councilors open to all residents, and ranked-choice voting for local elections. The Charter Commission invites Amherst residents to respond at a feedback session tentatively set for Thursday (May 11) from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Bangs Community Center.
Under the proposal, the town council, which would replace the Select Board and Town Meeting, would hire and evaluate a town manager who would be the executive officer responsible for day-to-day management. The town council would meet regularly year-round to deliberate and vote on budgets, zoning, and other bylaws and resolutions, according to the commission’s update.
Councilors would hold a minimum of two precinct meetings per year, the Charter Commission stated, for “two-way communication with constituents about local issues, proposals, and opportunities.” Town-wide forums would also be held annually on the budget, the master plan, and the schools.
The Charter Commission also “expressed general interest” in moving toward ranked-choice voting (also known as instant runoff voting), in which voters rank candidates in order of preference. “Ranked-choice voting ensures majority support for elected officials and saves money, by combining primary and final elections in one,” the update stated. For more information on ranked choice voting, see www.voterchoicema.org.
The Commission’s feedback session on Thursday will be held if Town Meeting does not meet that night. Otherwise, the session will be moved to Saturday, May 13, from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the Bangs Community Center.
Upcoming Charter Commission meetings will be held at the Amherst Police Station Community Room, unless otherwise noted, and include:
- Saturday, May 13 – 10 am -3 pm, Room 101, Bangs Community Center
- Thursday, June 1 – 5:30 – 9:30 pm
- Wednesday, June 7 – 5:30 – 9:30 pm
- Wednesday, June 28 – 5:30 – 9:30 pm
- Wednesday, July 5 – 5:30 – 9:30 pm
- Wednesday, July12 – 5:30 – 9:30 pm
- Wednesday, July 26 – 5:30 – 9:30 pm
- Thursday, August 31 – 7-9 pm – Public Hearing