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H.892

Introduced by   Representative Sweaney of Windsor

Referred to Committee on

Date:

Subject:  Municipal government; municipal charters; town of Windsor

Statement of purpose:  This bill proposes to approve amendments to the charter of the town of Windsor.

AN ACT RELATING TO AMENDING THE CHARTER OF THE TOWN OF WINDSOR

It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:

Sec. 1.  CHARTER APPROVAL

     The general assembly approves the amendments to the town of Windsor charter as provided in this act.  Proposals of amendment were approved by the voters on March 7, 2006.

Sec. 2.  24 App. V.S.A. chapter 157 § 2 is amended to read:

§ 2.  TOWN MEETINGS

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     (b)  A special town meeting —

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          (2)  shall be called by the town clerk upon receipt by the clerk of a petition signed by at least ten five percent (10%) (5%) of the voters, specifying the business to be transacted at the meeting.  The meeting shall be held within sixty (60) days from the date the petition was filed.

     (c)  Whenever an issue or election is to be decided by Australian ballot, the ballot boxes shall be opened no earlier than 6:00 a.m., but no later than 10:00 a.m., as determined by the selectboard board of civil authority as provided in Vermont Statutes Annotated, and shall close at 7:00 p.m.

Sec. 3.  24 App. V.S.A. chapter 157 § 9 is amended to read:

§ 9.  NOMINATION OF CANDIDATES

     Nomination of persons to fill town offices shall be by petition containing the signatures of at least one percent (1%) of the voters. Petitions shall be filed with the town clerk, together with a written assent signed by the nominee.  Both petition and written assent shall be filed at least thirty (30) and not more than forty (40) days prior to the election. When a petition is presented to the town clerk for filing, the clerk shall immediately examine it and ascertain whether it conforms to the provisions of this section.  If not found in conformity, the clerk shall designate the defect in writing and return the petition, together with the written reason for rejection, within six (6) hours, to the candidate in whose behalf it was filed.  The petition may again be presented when properly amended if this can be done within the time allowed for filing the petition.  All town elections shall be nonpartisan and no party designation or slogan shall be printed on any town ballot or petition.

Sec. 4.  24 App. V.S.A. chapter 157 § 10 is amended to read:

§ 10.  GENERAL POWERS

     (a)  The Town town of Windsor shall have all the powers granted to towns by the constitution and laws of this State state, together with all the implied powers necessary to carry into execution all the powers granted; it.

(b)  The town may enact ordinances not inconsistent with the constitution and laws of the State state of Vermont or with this charter, and impose penalties for violation thereof.

     (b)(c)  The town may acquire property within or without its corporate limits for any town purpose, in fee simple or any lesser interest or estate, by purchase, gift, devise, lease, or condemnation, consistent with the constitution and laws of the State state of Vermont and may sell, lease, mortgage, hold, manage, and control such property as its interest may require consistent with the constitution and laws of the State state.

Sec. 5.  24 App. V.S.A. chapter 157 § 11 is amended to read:

§ 11.  ELECTED OFFICERS

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     (c)  Any officer elected under this charter may be removed from office as follows:  A petition signed by not less than fifteen 15 (15%) percent of the registered voters shall be filed with the selectboard requesting a vote on whether the elected officer shall be removed from office.  The selectboard shall call a special Town Meeting to be held within forty-five (45) days of receiving the petition, town meeting to vote by Australian ballot on whether the elected officer shall be removed.  The official shall be removed only if at least one third of the registered voters of the Town town vote, and a majority of those voting vote for removal.  If the Town town voters vote for removal of an elected officer, the office shall thereupon become vacant.  The selectboard shall call a special Town town meeting, to be held within forty-five (45) days of the vote for removal, to fill the vacancy until the term of the officer so removed expires.

     (d)  The votes for removal and vote to fill the any vacancy shall be by Australian ballot.  The selectboard, or its remaining members, may fill such any vacancy by appointment until a new member is duly elected.  If only one member remains, that selectboard member may sign the orders.

     (d)(e)  An auditor shall not be town clerk, town treasurer, member of the selectboard, constable, collector of taxes, trustee of public funds, town administrator, road commissioner, or town district school director; nor shall a spouse of or any person assisting any of these officers in the discharge of their official duties be eligible to hold office as auditor.  A member of the selectboard shall not be a lister or an employee of the town.  A town administrator shall not hold any elective office in the town government.

Sec. 6.  24 App. V.S.A. chapter 157 § 13 is amended to read:

§ 13.  AUDITORS

     Auditors shall be elected for terms of three (3) years, with one (1) elected each year.  They shall be responsible for the proper financial accountability of the town, and for this purpose all town officers shall, within twenty (20) days after the close of the fiscal year, submit to the auditors such reports, records and materials as the auditors require for the discharge of their duties.  The auditors shall then proceed to examine and adjust the accounts of all town officers and report their findings in writing, not later than one hundred twenty (120) days after the close of the fiscal year.  They shall cause their findings to be printed and made available to the voters.  The auditors may employ the services of a certified public accountant at town expense to assist them in their duties by ensuring that an annual audit is done by an independent professional auditing firm hired by the selectboard and may be assigned other financially related duties by the selectboard or town administrator.

Sec. 7.  24 App. V.S.A. chapter 157 § 14 is amended to read:

§ 14.  BOARD OF LISTERS

     (a)  The board of listers shall consist of three (3) listers, one (1) elected each year for a term of three (3) years.  The board of listers shall have the same powers and duties prescribed for listers under the laws of the State of Vermont and this charter.

     (b)  The board of listers or the assessor shall annually review, or cause to be reviewed their appraisals of all property in the town which is subject to taxation.  The property shall be appraised in accordance with standards established by the laws of the State state and this charter.

     (c)  The board of listers or the assessor shall annually review and adjust their assessments of all properties enrolled in the state Current Use program, all properties under tax stabilization agreements and all properties with partial exemptions.

     (d)  The board of listers or the assessor shall annually update the Windsor property maps.

     (e) The board of listers or the assessor shall act as the Town's E9-1-1 information liaison.

     (f)  The listers or the assessor shall act as town agent, in matters relating to property valuation appeals to the Vermont department of taxes, division of property valuation and review.

     (g)  The board of listers shall be compensated as set forth in chapter VI section 30 of this chapter.


Sec. 8.  24 App. V.S.A. chapter 157 § 19 is amended to read:

§ 19.  TOWN ADMINISTRATOR

     (a)  The selectboard shall hire a town administrator for an indefinite period of time or by contract.  The town administrator may be removed as set forth in the Comprehensive Personnel Plan, by a majority vote of the full membership of the Selectboard selectboard.

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     (c)  The town administrator shall not simultaneously hold any elective office within town government, nor shall she/he that person be employed by the town in any other compensated capacity. 

Sec. 9.  24 App. V.S.A. chapter 157 § 22 is amended to read:

§ 22.  BUDGET PREPARATION

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     (d)  If a budget fails to be adopted at the annual town meeting, the town administrator shall present a revised budget for review within 20 days by the budget committee and the selectboard.

     (e)  The date of the vote on the revised budget shall be at least seven days following the public hearing.


Sec. 10.  24 App. V.S.A. chapter 157 § 23 is amended to read:

§ 23.  APPROPRIATIONS

     (a)  All amounts specified in the budget and approved by the voters at the annual town meeting are appropriated for the purpose purposes specified.  The selectboard may transfer appropriated amounts between general classifications of expenditures.  All unexpended and unencumbered appropriations, except appropriations for capital expenditures and reserve accounts, shall lapse at the close of the fiscal year.  No budget surplus shall be deemed a reserve account.

     (b)  The majority of the selectboard shall sign the manifest orders at each regularly scheduled meeting.

Sec. 11.  24 App. V.S.A. chapter 157 § 26 is amended to read:

§ 26.  TAX ABATEMENTS

     The board of civil authority, along with the treasurer and the listers, shall constitute the board of abatement.  The chair and the clerk of the board of civil authority shall serve as the chair and clerk of the board of abatement.  The board of abatement shall meet at least once a year to consider all the taxpayers' requests for abatement of their taxes, special assessment, or other levy made by the town.  The clerk shall call the meeting and public notice of the meeting must appear in at least three (3) public places at least two (2) days prior to the meeting.


Sec. 12.  24 App. V.S.A. chapter 157 § 28 is amended to read:

§ 28.  ORDINANCES

     (a)  Town legislation shall be by ordinance.  The selectboard shall constitute the legislative body of the town, except as otherwise provided herein, to adopt, amend, repeal and enforce ordinances.  Each ordinance shall be in writing and shall be identified by a short title, and the effective date of each ordinance shall be specified but not less than thirty (30) days after adoption by the selectboard, unless the ordinance is subject to the approval of the voters, then the ordinance shall be effective upon a favorable vote of a majority of those voting thereon.

     (b)  Ordinances shall be adopted subject to final approval after a public hearing.  A short title of the ordinance and a brief description of its contents shall be published in a newspaper of general circulation in the town, together with a notice of the time and place of a public hearing to consider the ordinance for final passage, such publication to be on a day at least one week and not more than two (2) weeks prior to the date of hearing, and notices of the hearing shall also be posted in at least three (3) conspicuous places in the town.

     (c)  At the public hearing or at any time and place to which the hearing may from time to time be adjourned, the ordinance shall be read in full, unless the selectboard elects to read the ordinance by title; and after such reading, all persons interested shall be given an opportunity to be heard.

     (d)  After the public hearing, the selectboard may finally adopt the ordinance, with or without amendment. If an ordinance is amended, no additional hearing shall be required unless substantial changes in intent or restrictions have occurred. If the amendment is deemed unsubstantial by unanimous vote of the selectboard members present at the hearing, the selectboard shall cause the amended ordinance to be entered in the official record of their proceedings, and shall also cause the short title of the ordinance and a brief description of its contents as amended, to be published in a newspaper of general circulation in the town on a day not more than fourteen (14)  days after the adoption. If the amendment is deemed substantial, a new hearing shall be conducted as set forth in parts (b) and (c) of this section.

     (e)  Every ordinance shall become effective thirty (30) days after adoption, unless the selectboard specifies a longer period, or if the ordinance is conditioned on approval of the voters of the town, then upon such voter approval.

     (f)  The town clerk shall prepare and keep in the town clerk's office and shall forward to the town library a book of ordinances which shall contain each town ordinance, together with a complete index of the ordinances according to subject matter.  Failure to comply with this provision shall not invalidate any town ordinance lawfully passed.

     (g)  An ordinance adopted by the board in the manner set forth shall be subject to its repeal by a Town Meeting if a petition signed by not less than ten percent (10%) of the voters is filed with the town clerk on or before the effective date of the ordinance.  The clerk shall warn a Town Meeting to be held within forty-five (45) days of the filing, to consider the question of repeal of the ordinance. Until the vote and question of repeal is held, the ordinance shall not become effective.  If a majority of the votes cast shall be in favor of repealing the ordinance, the same shall be repealed and no further action shall be taken.  If a majority of the votes cast shall be opposed to repeal, the ordinance shall become effective as of 12:01 a.m., on the day following such a vote.

     (h)  To meet a real public emergency affecting life, health, property or the public peace, the selectboard may adopt one or more emergency ordinances which may be adopted or rejected at the meeting at which it is introduced, but the affirmative vote of at least four (4) selectboard members shall be required for adoption.  Every emergency ordinance shall be repealed as of the sixty-first (61st) day following the day of adoption, but the ordinance may be re-enacted if the emergency still exists.

(a)  Town ordinances or rules may be adopted, amended, repealed, or enforced as provided by law or this charter.  The selectboard shall have the power to enact any ordinance or rule which it specifically finds necessary and desirable for the promotion of the public health, safety, welfare, or convenience of the town or its citizens.

     (i)(b)  A town ordinance may provide:

          (1)  the general penalty for violation of an ordinance shall be a fine in an amount not to exceed the sum of $500 for a single offense;

          (2)  that each week a violation continues shall constitute a separate offense, the fine not to exceed $100 per day for each day the violation continues;

          (1)  that any professional fees or costs incurred by the town in the enforcement of any ordinance shall be charged to the violator; those charges shall constitute a lien against real property or a levy against personal property and shall be enforced within the time and in the manner provided for the collection of taxes on real or personal property.

          (3)(2)  that the selectboard may authorize the town attorney to bring an action in the name of the Town town of Windsor for any relief which the selectboard may deem appropriate for the enforcement of any town ordinance.

     (j)  All valid town ordinances, resolutions, bylaws, and regulations which are in force when this charter becomes effective, shall remain in full force and effect, excepting only those ordinances, resolutions, bylaws and regulations which are inconsistent with this charter.


Sec. 13.  24 App. V.S.A. chapter 157 § 29 is amended to read:

§ 29.  APPOINTED OFFICERS

     (a)  The selectboard, by a majority vote, shall appoint the following town officers for the terms indicated:

          (1)  a Town Attorney for a term of one (1) year, to fulfill the duties prescribed by law for the Grand Juror and Town Agent of a town, except as provided in subsection 14(f) of this title, and perform such other duties as may be requested by the selectboard, or any other officer or agency of town government, with the approval of the Selectboard or the Town Administrator.

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          (3)  Zoning Administrator (appointed by the Planning Commission and approved by the Selectboard), for a one (1) year term.  

          (4)  Planning Commission, Zoning Board of Adjustment, and/or a Development Review Board (three year three-year term), 2 or more each year as required for a total of 7 members and 2 alternates with one-year terms.

          (5)  Planning Commission of seven members with two or more appointed each year for three-year terms.

          (5)(6)  Regional Planning Commissioner, one (1) and one (1) alternate for one (1) year.

          (6)(7)  Town Assessor for a term of one (1) year, who may be a full-time lister.

          (7)(8)  Custodial Officer for the Vermont Judicial Bureau and an Issuing Official for a term of one (1) year.

          (8)(9)  A constable may be appointed for a one (1) year term by the selectboard.  The constable's training and duties shall be set by the selectboard. The constable shall be subject to the Comprehensive Personnel Plan of the Town town of Windsor.

          (10)  One or more tree wardens for a term of one year per tree warden.

          (9)(11)  Other special committees as needed.

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     (c)  When it becomes necessary to make appointments to any office or position created by this charter, ordinance, or bylaws, the selectboard shall give notice in a newspaper of general circulation within the town specifying positions open for which appointment will be made so that interested persons may apply.  Nothing in this section shall prohibit the reappointment by the selectboard of an incumbent in an appointed office.

     (d)  The offices of Tree Warden, Fence Viewer, Grand Juror, Inspector of Lumber, Weigher of Coal, and Second Constable, Town Agent, are all abolished.  Except as otherwise provided in this charter, the selectboard or its designee, shall exercise the powers, duties, and responsibilities of any of the offices abolished in this section in the event that the need should arise.


Sec. 14.  24 App. V.S.A. chapter 157 § 31 is amended to read:

§ 31.  CONFLICT OF INTEREST

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(b)  No elective or appointive elected or appointed officer or employee of the town shall be beneficially interested directly or indirectly in any contract with the town, regardless of amount, or furnish any material, or perform any labor, except in the discharge of his or her official duties, unless such contract shall have been awarded upon bids advertised for by publication.  Such publication shall appear at least two (2) times in a newspaper having general circulation in the town; the second publication shall be at least seven (7) days prior to the opening of such bids.  No officer or employee of the town shall take part in any decision concerning the business of the town in which the officer or employee has a direct or indirect financial interest, aside from his or her salary as an officer or employee, greater than that of any other citizen or taxpayer in the town.  Nothing in this section shall prohibit the town administrator from hiring the best available service provider in an emergency situation.

Sec. 15.  24 App. V.S.A. chapter 157 § 32 is amended to read:

§ 32.  PUBLIC LANDS

     (a)  With approval of the voters given at any duly warned special or annual town meeting, the selectboard may sell any portion of real estate owned by the town and not needed for town purposes, or change the use of any real property owned by the town.  Such authorization may be given by individual parcel or in blanket form by the voters at the Annual Town Meeting special or annual town meeting.

     (b)  However, the Once the selectboard has the authorization to sell or substantially change the use of a parcel or parcels of real estate, the selectboard shall not sell or substantially change the use of any such real estate without first holding hold a public hearing giving notice of such hearing by posting in at least three (3) conspicuous public places within the town and by publication in a newspaper having general circulation in the town.  The notice shall be published not less than seven (7) nor more than twenty-one (21) days prior to the date of the hearing and shall also identify specifically the real estate involved. At the hearing all citizens of the town shall have an opportunity to be heard, to express their views, and to inquire as to the reasons, method, time and terms of the proposed sale or change of use. After all proper persons have had an opportunity to be heard, the selectboard shall vote upon the question and, if a majority of the full board shall vote in favor of the proposed action, the question shall be approved. If voter approval has previously been given to such action, the selectboard may then take the action the voters have approved; otherwise, they shall submit the question to the voters at a town meeting and upon approval of a majority of those voting upon the question, the selectboard may proceed to sell or change the use of the real estate in question, as the case may be.  

     (c)  Notice of such hearing shall be given by the selectboard:

          (1)  by posting in at least three (3) conspicuous public places within the town;

          (2)  by publication in a newspaper having general circulation in the town;

          (3)  the notice shall be published not less than seven (7) nor more than twenty-one (21) days prior to the date of the hearing; and

          (4)  shall also identify specifically the real estate involved.

     (d)  At the hearing, all citizens of the town shall have an opportunity to:

          (1)  to inquire as to the reasons, method, time, and terms of the proposed sale or change of use; and

          (2)  be heard, to express their views.

     (e)  After all proper persons have had an opportunity to be heard, the selectboard shall vote upon the question and, if a majority of the full board votes in favor of the proposed action, the selectboard shall complete the sale of change of use.

Sec. 16.  24 App. V.S.A. chapter 157 § 34 is amended to read:

§ 34.  SEPARABILITY SEVERABILITY

     The sections of this charter and parts thereof are separable severable.  If any portion of this charter or its application to any person or circumstance shall be held invalid, the remainder thereof or the application of such invalid portions to other persons shall not thereby be affected, except that no portion of the charter shall be administered in an erratic, inconsistent or prejudicial manner or so as to create a double standard  If any provision of this charter is held invalid, the other provisions of this charter shall not be affected.  If the application of this charter or any of its provisions to any person or circumstances is held invalid, such application of this charter and its provisions to other persons or circumstances shall not be affected.

Sec. 18.  24 App. V.S.A. chapter 157 § 40 is amended to read:

§ 40.  EFFECTIVE DATE

The charter shall become effective upon approval in accordance with 17 V.S.A. § 2645 and when so approved, two (2) copies shall be maintained in good condition in the Windsor Public Library. Further copies.  Copies shall be available to the public at cost at the town clerk’s office.

Sec. 19.  24 App. V.S.A. chapter 157 § 42 is amended to read:

§ 42.  RESIDENCY

     The town administrator and all department heads shall reside within the town limits.  This requirement cannot be changed by specific contract.  This requirement may be waived by the selectboard for current town employees with ten (10) or more years of service to the Town town of Windsor.  The selectboard in its discretion may permit a newly hired department head or town administrator from outside the town to have up to six months to come into compliance with this residency provision.

Sec. 20.  REPEAL

     24 App. V.S.A. chapter 157 §§ 5 (warnings), 8 (the board of civil authori2ty), and 37 (transitional provisions) are repealed.



Published by:

The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street
Montpelier, Vermont


www.leg.state.vt.us