FRAMINGHAM – After 10-month of meetings and public hearings, the 9-member elected Framingham Charter Commission voted last night 7-1 to submit its home rule charter to Selectmen on January 24, and eventually to have voters decide the ultimate political question – Should Framingham be a Town or a City?
In less than 3 months, Framingham voters will decide if the government should be a town, with a manager, 5-member Board of Selectmen, and elected Town Meeting or if the community should become a city, with a mayor, an 11-member City Council and increase the size of the School Committee to 9 district members.
Voters will make that decision on Tuesday, April 4.
If voters say yes to a city form of government, the first mayoral election will be in November 2017. At that time, the new 11-member City Council and a new School Committee also would be elected.
The lone vote against the overall home rule charter last night was Teri Banerjee, who is currently the town’s elected moderator for Town Meeting.
In a few weeks, a copy of the charter will be mailed to every household in the community. Included in the mailing will be a “majority report” in which eight of the 9-elected Charter Commissioners will sign. The report will lay out the reasons why Framingham should become a city. Also included in the mailing will be a “minority report” written by Banerjee.
Last month, the Massachusetts Attorney General signed off on the final draft.
You can read the draft charter at http://www.framinghamma.gov/DocumentCenter/View/24854
Last Wednesday, the Commission held a public hearing at Framingham High, in which about 60 individuals attended. After listening to the comments, the Commission made a couple of last-hour changes to their home rule document.
If voters approve the charter, the community will be known as the City of Framingham.
Originally, the Commission had wording in the Charter for the name to be “The City known as the Town of Framingham.” Several at the hearing last week and on social media had complained about the confusing name, which the community of Methuen uses. The vote to move to a City of Framingham title passed last night 6-2, with John Stefanini and Dennis Giombetti in opposition.
The Commissioners also voted last night to change the “chief of staff” title to “chief operating officer.” The vote was 7-0-1, with Banerjee abstaining.
Commissioner Adam Blumer, proposed a term limit of 12 years for City Councilors, last night. He said it was a “compromise” measure after hearing several speak at last week’s hearing. The measure failed 3-5, with Blumer, Jason Smith, and George King supporting it. Blumer said if it had passed, he would have proposed the same 12-year term limit for Mayor and School Committee members. Presently, only three communities out of 351 in the Commonwealth have term limits.
Framingham has created several Charter Commissions over the years, including this one in the spring of 2016.
Back in 1996, 63 percent of Framingham voters agreed to create a charter commission to study the idea of changing Framingham from a town to a city form of government. But a year later, the when the commission asked voters to adopt a city charter the measure was rejected with only 32 percent of voters supporting the ideas. Voters did agree to increase the number of Selectmen from 3 to 5 and create a Town Manager form of government in town.