The Massachusetts Select Board Association covered trends in municipal charter and bylaw changes during a webinar on Oct. 14. Pictured are (clockwise from top left) retired Franklin Town Administrator Jeff Nutting, MSA First Vice President and Williamstown Select Board Member Andrew Hogeland, Auburn Town Manager Julie Jacobson and Middleton Town Administrator Andrew Sheehan.

A Massachusetts Select Board Association webinar on Oct. 14 covered trends in municipal charter and bylaw changes.

Middleton Town Administrator Andrew Sheehan, Auburn Town Manager Julie Jacobson, and retired Franklin Town Administrator Jeff Nutting discussed common issues that lead to the development of or changes to town charters and bylaws.

Sheehan discussed some of the challenges and benefits of the open town meeting form of government. He also reviewed the various options that are available to municipalities looking to adopt or change a town charter, including charter commissions and committees, and government study committees.

Jacobson discussed Auburn’s charter change process, including the reasons for pursuing a charter change and some of the challenges encountered during the charter change process. Jacobson also highlighted some of the benefits of a strong town manager form of government.

Nutting discussed the council-manager form of government, used in 12 communities including Franklin. Nutting explained its benefits and drawbacks, and the ways in which it differs from town meeting-select board.

The panelists also responded to a number of questions about topics like citizen engagement and public participation in council-manager forms of government, making changes to a charter without changing the form of government, and how to engage the public in the charter review process.

Charter Change Resources (50K PDF)


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