Charter Commission Update – July 8

The Charter Commission is moving forward. We have a great team, and I am confident that we will come up with a new Town Charter (form of government) that 60% of the town will vote to approve in our town election in March. It’s an exciting process, and I’m thrilled to be part of it … although I’m a little surprised at the demand on my time. As the Commission’s secretary, I am keeping busy!

Our proposed charter won’t have all of the features that everyone wants, but hopefully it will have enough features that there is something for everyone. Compromises will need to be made for the overall good of our community.

I hear those who would like us to be a city, and I hear those who don’t want any change whatsoever. There are advantages to both, but Salem is growing, so I am convinced we need to make some changes. By approving the formation of the Commission, and by participating in Survey #1, Salem voters indicated that they want change. What those changes might be are still being explored. Watch for Survey #2, which I anticipate will be sent out in about a week!

Salem is a large community. Only 6 NH communities have more residents than Salem. Only one town has more residents than we do. 8 NH cities have fewer residents than Salem; several are 1/3 of our size. We have outgrown our current form of government.

The Commission is exploring ALL options as we try to decide what our BEST options are. I am hoping that we will soon get information about any kind of government — town or city — that would have a significant impact on our property taxes. I anticipate that all nine Commissioners will unanimously determine that Salem should remain as a town, with a town council of either seven or nine councilors.

Last night I gave a presentation to the Charter Commission in support of electing 9 councilors, by a mixture of 5 by ward (neighborhoods) and 4 at large (across the town).

Here is the slideshow that I presented:

This handout was provided to the other councilors

It looks like my proposal will not get enough support from the other Councilors to be included in our proposed charter, as it is perceived as too different from what we are used to, but I still believe that Salem residents should see what was presented.

Salem is growing and changing from a small town to a thriving and welcoming community, and how our government functions needs to reflect that. I will continue to look for options that will be best for our community.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have suggestions or questions. One of the biggest concerns we heard at both the Public discussion and in the survey, was that there is a lack of communication. That communication needs to go both ways!

You can contact all of the Commissioners here:
https://www.townofsalemnh.org/charter-commission/webforms/contact-u

All information pertaining to the Charter Commission process is sent to the Town to be added to the Town’s website. All meetings are videoed by SGTV, and may be viewed in multiple places.

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