Ballot Questions 9, 10: Adding Fire Department to Charter, Cleaning Up Charter Language

by | Nov 2, 2014

On Tuesday, East Greenwich registered voters will be asked four local ballot questions in addition to the seven state ballot questions. Ballot Question 8 asks voters if the Financial Town Meeting should be eliminated. You can read more about that here. Ballot Question 11 asks voters to approve borrowing up to $2 million for road repairs. You can read more about that here.

Ballot Question 9 asks voters to decide whether to include the new EG Fire Department in the Town Charter. The EG Fire District – which had been a completely separate municipal entity – was merged with the town in June 2013. The resulting Fire Department is not addressed in the Town Charter. Approval of Ballot Question 9 would remedy that.

The EGFD would be subject to the same sort of charter provisions as rule the EG Police Department, according to Town Manager Tom Coyle. You can see how the charter handles the EGPD here.

“It’s important that we add this so that we have provisions in the charter for, for example, how the chief and deputy chief get appointed, and for firefighter hiring procedures,” said Town Council President Michael Isaacs.

Ballot Question 10 asks voters to approve charter amendments that correct “minor, non-substantive errors identified by the publisher of the Town Charter.”

Isaacs said the changes came about while the charter and ordinances were being re-codified by the company General Code. General Code suggested a number of changes that would make the charter more easily understandable by using plainer language.

In some cases, said Isaacs, “the way it’s written is poor English.” In other instances, the language is updated.

One example is the heading for section C23, which reads, “Publicity of Records.” If Ballot Question 10 is approved, that heading will be changed to “Access to Public Records.”

“Maybe that was the term they used when the charter was adopted in 1972, but that’s not the language used today,” said Isaacs. “The changes help with clarity and understanding.”

All the language changes will be available at polling stations.

You can see a sample ballot here.

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