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  • Acts
  • 2001
  • Chapter 98 AN ACT RELATIVE TO THE CHARTER OF THE CITY KNOWN AS THE TOWN OF WATERTOWN.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:


SECTION 1. Subsection (b) of section 2-2 of Article 2 of the charter of the city known as the town of Watertown, which is on file in the office of the archivist of the commonwealth, as provided in section 12 of chapter 43B of the General Laws, is hereby amended by striking out the first 2 paragraphs and inserting in place thereof the following 2 paragraphs:-

Powers and Duties - The council president shall be recognized as the official head of the town for all ceremonial purposes and shall be recognized by the courts for the purpose of serving civil process.

The council president shall be the presiding officer of the town council. The council president shall have no power of veto but shall have the same powers as any other member of the town council to vote upon all measures coming before it. The council president shall perform such other duties consistent with the office as may be provided by charter, by ordinance, or by vote of the town council.

SECTION 2. Section 2-5 of said Article 2 of said charter is hereby amended by adding the following paragraph:-

The town may enter into contracts for the exercise of its corporate powers on such terms and conditions as are authorized by the town council by ordinance.

SECTION 3. Section 2-8 of said Article 2 of said charter is hereby amended by striking out the title and inserting in place thereof the following title:-

SECTION 2-8 OFFICERS APPOINTED BY THE COUNCIL OR COUNCIL PRESIDENT.

SECTION 4. Subsection (c) of section 2-9 of said Article 2 of said charter is hereby amended by striking out the words "ten days", in the first and last sentences, each time they appear, and inserting in place thereof, in each instance, the following words:- 5 days; and by striking out the words "eight octavo pages of ordinary book print" in the third sentence and inserting in place thereof the following words:- 10 column inches.

SECTION 5. Section 2-10 of said Article 2 of said charter is hereby amended by striking out subsections (a) and (b) and inserting in place thereof the following 2 subsections:-

(a) Councillors-at-large - If a vacancy shall occur in the office of councillor-at-large during the first 14 months of the term for which councillors are elected, the vacancy shall be filled by special election held within 60 days following the date on which the vacancy occurs. The election commission shall certify the successful candidate to the office of councillor-at-large to serve for the balance of the unexpired term.

(b) District Councillor - If a vacancy shall occur in the office of district councillor during the first 14 months of the term for which councillors are elected, it shall be filled in the same manner as provided in subsection (a) of section 2-10 for the office of councillor-at-large.

SECTION 6. Subparagraph (3) of section 3-2 of Article 3 of said charter is hereby amended by striking out the second sentence and inserting in place thereof the following sentence:- Appointments made by the town manager shall be subject to confirmation by the town council, as provided by ordinance.

SECTION 7. Said section 3-2 of said Article 3 of said charter is hereby further amended by inserting after subparagraph (7) the following subparagraph:-

(7A) He or she shall execute contracts, subject to such prior town council approval as may be prescribed by ordinance.

SECTION 8. Said section 3-2 of said Article 3 of said charter is hereby further amended by inserting after subparagraph (13) the following 3 subparagraphs:-

(13A) He or she shall determine the existence of a public emergency or danger and shall assume responsibility for the maintenance of public safety, public order and enforcement of laws. The manager shall notify the council president as soon as practical, but within 24 hours, of such a public emergency or danger and of the actions taken. Should the public emergency continue more than 24 hours, the town council may meet to review, ratify, or terminate said public emergency.

(13B) He or she shall execute all deeds conveying town real property, but any such conveyance shall have been previously authorized by the vote of the town council pursuant to the applicable provisions of the General Laws.

(13C) He or she shall publish an annual report comprising the complete statistical record of the operations of every town department, commission and committee for the preceding year, and it shall be published annually and made available for distribution to the public not later than 4 months after the end of the period on which the report is based.

SECTION 9. Subsection (d) of section 4-1 of Article 4 of said charter is hereby amended by striking out paragraphs 1) and 2) and inserting in place thereof the following 2 paragraphs:-

1) To appoint a superintendent of the schools and other employees consistent with the General Laws. The superintendent shall be charged with the day-to-day administration of the school system, subject to policy directives adopted by the school committee;

2) To fix the salaries of those officers and employees as authorized by the General Laws, subject to appropriation and collective bargaining agreements, and to establish educational goals and policies consistent with the requirements of the General Laws and statewide goals and standards, including policies and procedures pursuant to a collective bargaining agreement; and.

SECTION 10. Said subsection (d) of said section 4-1 of said Article 4 of said charter is hereby further amended by adding the following 2 paragraphs:-

4) Salary - The school committee may provide an annual salary for its members within the annual school department appropriation. No increase in such salary shall be effective, however, unless it shall have been adopted during the first 18 months after the biennial election of members, and it provides that such salary is to take effect with the organization of the town government following the next biennial election.

5) Expenses - Subject to the school department appropriation, the members of the school committee shall be entitled to reimbursement of their actual and necessary expenses incurred in the performance of their duties.

SECTION 11. Said section 4-1 of said Article 4 of said charter is hereby further amended by striking out subsection (f) and inserting in place thereof the following subsection:-

(f) Filling of Vacancies - If a vacancy shall occur on the school committee during the first 38 months of the term for which members are elected, the vacancy shall be filled in the same manner as provided in subsection (a) of section 2-10 for the filling of vacancies in the office of councillor-at-large. If there be no candidate eligible and willing to serve, the vacancy shall be filled by a majority of the remaining members of the school committee and the council president from among the voters. A person elected to fill the vacancy under this section shall serve only until the date of the next regular town election. The person elected to the office of school committee member at the town election, not then serving as a member of the school committee, shall forthwith be sworn and shall serve for the last 2 months of the calendar year in addition to the term for which he or she was elected.

SECTION 12. Subsection (b) of section 4-2 of said Article 4 of said charter is hereby amended by striking out paragraph 1) and inserting in place thereof the following paragraph:-

1) To elect a director of the library who shall be charged with the day-to-day administration of the library system, subject to policy directives adopted by the library trustees, and to set the director's salary within the salary range set by the town manager.

SECTION 13. Said section 4-2 of said Article 4 of said charter is hereby further amended by striking out subsection (c) and inserting in place thereof the following subsection:-

(c) Filling of Vacancies - If a vacancy shall occur on the board of library trustees during the first 38 months of the term for which members are elected, the vacancy shall be filled in the same manner as is provided in subsection (a) of section 2-10 for the filling of vacancies in the office of councillor-at-large. If there be no candidate eligible and willing to serve, the vacancy shall be filled by a majority of the remaining members of the board of library trustees and the council president from among the voters. A person elected to fill a vacancy under this section shall serve only until the next regular town election. The person elected at said town election, not then serving as a member of the board of library trustees shall forthwith be sworn and shall serve for the last 2 months of the calendar year, in addition to the term for which he or she was elected.

SECTION 14. Said section 4-2 of said Article 4 of said charter is hereby further amended by adding the following 2 subsections:-

(d) Salary - The board of trustees may request an ordinance to provide an annual salary for its members. No ordinance increasing such salary shall be effective, however, unless it shall have been adopted during the first 18 months after the biennial election of members, and it provides that such salary is to take effect with the organization of the town government following the next biennial election.

(e) Expenses - Subject to appropriation, the members of the board of trustees shall be entitled to reimbursement of their actual and necessary expenses incurred in the performance of their duties.

SECTION 15. Article 5 of said charter is hereby amended by striking out section 5-1 and inserting in place thereof the following section:-

SECTION 5-1 BUDGET HEARING AND GOAL SETTING

The president of the town council shall call a meeting of the town council prior to the commencement of the budget process, but not later than November 30, to review the financial condition of the town, revenue and expenditure forecasts, and other information relevant to the budget process. The president also shall invite representatives of the school committee and library board of trustees to attend the meeting. Subsequent to the meeting, the town council shall meet to set policy goals with input from the town manager and the community. Based on the goals, the town manager shall develop budgetary goals and the town budget.

SECTION 16. Said Article 5 of said charter is hereby further amended by striking out section 5-2 and inserting in place thereof the following section:-

SECTION 5-2 SUBMISSION OF BUDGET MESSAGE

The town manager shall, within 7 days after the receipt of departmental budget proposals, but in no event later than January 31, prepare and submit to the town council a synopsis of all proposed budget initiatives and requests for additional funding for its review and prioritization. The synopsis shall include a summary of each initiative, its justification and its estimated costs. Councillors may also propose budget initiatives for review and prioritization. Any such proposal must include a summary, justification and estimate of costs. The town manager shall provide an estimate of projected revenues.

By the first regularly scheduled town council meeting in April, or a later date if approved by a vote of the town council, the town manager shall submit to the town council a proposed operating budget for the ensuing fiscal year which shall provide a complete financial plan of all town funds and activities for the ensuing fiscal year, an accompanying budget message, and supporting documents.

The message of the town manager shall explain the proposed budget for all town agencies, both in fiscal terms and in terms of work programs. It shall outline the proposed financial policies of the town for the ensuing fiscal year, describe the important features of the budget, indicate any major changes from the current fiscal year in terms of financial policies, expenditures or revenues, together with the reasons for such changes, summarize the town's debt position, and include such other material as the town manager deems desirable or the town council may reasonably require.

SECTION 17. Article 5 of said charter is hereby further amended by striking out section 5-3 and inserting in place thereof the following section:-

SECTION 5-3 ACTION ON THE BUDGET

a) Public Hearing - The town council shall, within 7 days following its receipt of the proposed budget, publish in 1 or more local newspapers the general summary of the proposed budget as submitted by the town manager and a notice stating: (1) the times and places where complete copies of the proposed budget and supporting documents are available for examination by the public and (2) the date, time and place, not less than 10 days after such publication, when the town council, or a standing committee of the town council, will hold a public hearing on the proposed budget as submitted by the town manager.

b) Adoption - The town council shall adopt the budget, with or without amendments, within 60 days following the day the proposed budget is received by it, or such other period as may be provided by general law. In amending the budget the town council may delete or decrease any programs or amounts, except expenditures required by law, or for debt service. If the town council fails to take any action with respect to any item in the proposed budget within 60 days following the date of its receipt of the proposed budget, or such other period as may be provided by general law, such amount shall, without any action by the town council, become a part of the appropriations for the ensuing fiscal year and shall be available for the purposes specified.

The town council may add budget items or increase funding for existing budget items as generally described in sections 32 and 33 of chapter 44 of the General Laws for items not funded or insufficiently funded in the town manager's proposed budget.

SECTION 18. Section 5-4 of said Article 5 of said charter is hereby further amended by striking out the first sentence and inserting in place thereof the following sentence:- Each year an outside audit of the books and accounts of the town shall be made.

SECTION 19. Section 7-2 of Article 7 of said charter is hereby amended by striking out the second sentence and inserting in place thereof the following sentence:- On the seventh Tuesday preceding every regular general town election there shall be a preliminary election for the purpose of nominating candidates.

SECTION 20. The second sentence of paragraph (b) of section 8-1 of Article 8 of said charter is hereby amended by inserting after the word "desirable" the following words:- , unless an extension is authorized by vote of the town council.

SECTION 21. Section 8-7 of said Article 8 of said charter is hereby amended by striking out the title and inserting in place thereof the following title:-

SECTION 8-7 NUMBER.

SECTION 22. Said Article 8 of said charter is hereby amended by adding the following section:-

SECTION 8-11 PENALTIES FOR ELECTED OFFICIALS CONVICTED OF A FELONY

(a) Definition - For the purposes of this section of the charter, "conviction" means a finding of guilt resulting from a plea of guilty, the decision of a court or magistrate or the verdict of a jury, irrespective of the pronouncement of judgement or sentence or the suspension thereof.

(b) Criminal Actions Involving Discharge of Official Duties - Notwithstanding any general or special law or charter provision to the contrary, any person convicted of any criminal offense involving a violation of his or her official duties in any elective office held at the time of conviction shall be deemed to have vacated said office at the time of conviction.

(c) Felony Conviction - Notwithstanding any general or special law or charter provision to the contrary, any person convicted of a felony under the laws of the commonwealth or of the United States, committed while holding elective office in the town of Watertown, who still holds such elective office at the time of conviction, may be subject to censure, permanent removal from any committee chairs held by virtue of his or her office, or expulsion by a unanimous vote of the remaining members of the body of which he or she is a member, and said body shall have authority to exclude said officer and to declare the office vacant.

(d) Reversal of Conviction or Pardon - If the conviction is reversed or vacated, the elected official shall be restored to office with all its rights. If pardoned, the official shall not by reason thereof be restored, unless it is so expressly ordered by the terms of the pardon or by majority vote of the members of the body. If an elected official is restored to office after a conviction is reversed or vacated, any person previously chosen to fill the vacancy created as a result of such prior conviction shall be deemed to have vacated the office at the time the conviction is reversed or vacated.

SECTION 23. Article 9 of said charter is hereby amended by striking out section 9-6 and inserting in place thereof the following section:-

SECTION 9-6 (a) TEMPORARY ADMINISTRATIVE CODE

Until such time as another provision is made in accordance with the provisions of the charter, for a different organization of the administration of the government of the town, the following temporary provisions shall be in effect. Provided, however, nothing in this section shall be construed to authorize the termination of any term of office of any incumbent of the offices enumerated at the time of the special election, whether such term was established by election or by appointment. It is the intention of this provision that all persons serving in an office for a term of years, at the time of the special election, shall continue to serve in such office until their term would otherwise expire, and that at the expiration of such terms the manner of selection provided in this section shall then become effective.

(i) The town manager shall appoint the following town officers who shall serve at his or her pleasure: a town clerk, a town treasurer-collector, a personnel assistant, a superintendent of public works and an administrative assistant.

(ii) The town manager shall appoint the following officers, subject to the civil service law and rules: a fire chief, a police chief and a purchasing agent.

(iii) The town manager shall appoint the following town officers for a term of years: constables, fence viewers, town physician, members of a recreation commission and the staff of such commission, members of a skating arena commission and the staff of such commission, members of a multi-service center and the staff of such center, members of a council on aging and the staff of such council, an animal inspector and a veterans' services director.

All appointments shall be for the same term of years as is now provided for each office and the number of members of each multiple member body shall be as is presently provided for each such body.

(iv) The town manager shall appoint the following town officers, subject to the approval of the town council; and in accordance with the provisions of applicable laws, provided, however, if the town council shall fail to take any action on a proposed appointment by the town manager within 30 days following the date notice of such appointment is filed by the town manager with the town council, such appointment shall be deemed to have been confirmed: a town attorney, a licensing board, a board of assessors, a board of appeals, a planning board, a redevelopment authority, a housing authority, a conservation commission, a board of health, an election commission and a personnel board.

All appointments shall be for the same term of years as is now provided for each office and the number of members of each multiple member body shall be as is presently provided for each such body.

(v) The chair of each of the following agencies: the Watertown Housing Authority, the Watertown Redevelopment Authority, the planning board, the board of health, the board of appeals and the conservation commission shall serve as a coordinating committee on community development. Forthwith following the election at which this charter is adopted the said persons shall meet, organize and establish a schedule of meetings, which shall be not less frequent than once in each month, for the purpose of providing better communication and coordination of the work programs of each of the several agencies represented. The coordinating committee may, subject to appropriation, provide for staff assistance to promote coordination.

SECTION 24. Notwithstanding section 42C of chapter 54 of the General Laws, this act shall be submitted to the voters of the city known as the town of Watertown in the form of the following 8 questions which shall be placed on the ballot at a regular or special town election to be held in the year 2001 and the questions shall be followed by a brief summary prepared by the town attorney.

QUESTION 1: "Shall sections 1 through 4, 7 through 10, 14, 18 through 21 and 23 of an act passed by the general court in the year 2001, entitled 'An Act Relative to the Charter of the City Known as the Town of Watertown' be accepted?"

QUESTION 2: "Shall sections 5, 11 and 13 of an act passed by the general court in the year 2001, entitled 'An Act Relative to the Charter of the City Known as the Town of Watertown' be accepted?"

QUESTION 3: "Shall section 6 of an act passed by the general court in the year 2001, entitled 'An Act Relative to the Charter of the City Known as the Town of Watertown' be accepted?"

QUESTION 4: "Shall section 12 of an act passed by the general court in the year 2001, entitled 'An Act Relative to the Charter of the City Known as the Town of Watertown' be accepted?"

QUESTION 5: "Shall section 15 of an act passed by the general court in the year 2001, entitled 'An Act Relative to the Charter of the City Known as the Town of Watertown' be accepted?"

QUESTION 6: "Shall section 16 of an act passed by the general court in the year 2001, entitled 'An Act Relative to the Charter of the City Known as the Town of Watertown' be accepted?"

QUESTION 7: "Shall section 17 of an act passed by the general court in the year 2001, entitled 'An Act Relative to the Charter of the City Known as the Town of Watertown' be accepted?"

QUESTION 8: "Shall section 22 of an act passed by the general court in the year 2001, entitled 'An Act Relative to the Charter of the City Known as the Town of Watertown' be accepted?"

If a majority of the votes cast in answer to any of the questions is in the affirmative, the sections of this act therein referenced shall take effect as of January 1, 2002, but not otherwise.

Approved October 5, 2001.