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Hartford Plans Vote on Charter

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 6/23/2016 12:32:24 AM
Modified: 6/23/2016 12:32:32 AM

Hartford — The Selectboard has decided to ask residents on Election Day in November to approve the same changes to the town charter that were adopted by voters at Town Meeting in March.

At Town Meeting, Hartford residents approved two changes — including establishing a local option tax and shifting failed budget votes to a second all-day ballot vote — but the charter changes were never approved by the state Legislature, halting the process.

The Legislature balked at approving the changes because of “procedural flaws” in the March vote, according to the motion the Selectboard unanimously passed on Tuesday night following a short discussion.

Interim Town Manager Pat MacQueen previously told the board the town errored in failing to give the public proper access to the full text of the changes on Town Meeting Day.

Though the board provided voters with a summary of what the practical effects of the changes would be, the board didn’t provide a full-text document with the exact language.

What had been described in March as a third charter change — establishment of a capital fund to hold local option tax money — wasn’t actually a charter change and won’t need to go before voters again, MacQueen said.

Though the Selectboard on Tuesday approved holding a special Town Meeting on Nov. 8 to coincide with Election Day, the process of putting the changes before voters is far from over, MacQueen said on Wednesday.

He said the board will hold two public hearings on the charter changes over the next couple of months.

Selectboard members Sandy Mariotti and Alan Johnson both expressed qualms with passing the motion on Tuesday night.

“I’m really concerned that we haven’t done enough homework here,” Mariotti said.

Johnson initially asked board members to table the motion until the board could consider any concerns, but he rescinded his motion.

The fact that the Legislature didn’t approve the changes during its latest session will cost the town nearly $250,000 in lost revenue from the local option sales tax. Without approval, the town can’t start collecting the levy on rooms and meals and alcohol.

The School Board must also pass a similar motion to set the special November meeting.

The School Board was to meet Wednesday night, but wasn’t scheduled to discuss the topic, and the board doesn’t meet again until Aug. 24.

Jordan Cuddemi can be reached at or 603-727-3248.

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