Article 6, which proposes the adoption of a Charter, is the result of Merrimack voters’ repeated request to analyze how to best govern our community. This Charter is the culmination of over 18 months of effort that included three Town votes; 30 Commission meetings; 16 Commission subcommittee meetings; three public hearings; and input from Merrimack residents, elected and appointed officials from Merrimack and charter communities from around the State. The Charter was reviewed and cleared with no objections by the Office of the Attorney General, the Secretary of State, and the Department of Revenue Administration.
The Charter was developed under the provisions of RSA 49-B, which “...provides a vehicle whereby a municipality may adopt a form of government that best addresses local needs.” Merrimack is the eighth largest community in the State of New Hampshire with over 27,000 people and handles over $90 million a year in revenue, making it comparable to some of our State’s largest corporations. Yet, the Town is still operating the same as towns with less than 800 people under the State’s standardized Official Ballot laws (“SB2”). The Charter moves Merrimack away from the “one-size fits all” nature of municipal government embodied in the myriad of statutes, rules, and regulations at the state level, and allows the residents of Merrimack to have their own customized document of governance to meet the ever-increasing demands of our community.
Much of the current form has been incorporated into the Charter providing residents and businesses with a single, easy-to-follow document that clearly defines how Town government operates. For example, the authority for approving budgets, bonds, notes, and any other appropriation remains with the voters through the Official Ballot process (“SB2”) currently in use.
However, some of the more noticeable changes include:
If adopted by the voters, the Charter takes effect on July 1, 2006. The members of the Board of Selectmen holding office on July 1, 2006 will continue to serve as Town Councilors until their respective terms expire. The Charter calls for a Special Election on June 13, 2006 to elect the two additional members to the Town Council. Many of the procedures and policies in use on June 30, 2006 will continue with the adoption of the Charter to ease the transition.