Block Island Times

Suggested changes made to Town Charter explained

Towns in Rhode Island, and many towns throughout New England, are guided in their structure and governance by a Home Rule Charter. The town charter is the foundation of local government, covering everything from the length of terms of local elected officials to the essential duties of the Town Manager and Town Council, from how our town’s meetings are conducted to the structure and makeup of nearly all of the town’s boards and committees. The charter is the stable reference point for nearly all aspects of how our local government operates, and is a comprehensive document consulted regularly in the town’s decision-making process. The title “Home Rule Charter” describes the document’s essence: it embodies our town’s right to self-determination.
Why does our Financial Town Meeting run the way it does? It’s in the charter. Why are there five Council members? It’s in the charter. How long are Council terms? In the charter. You get the idea – if you have a question about nearly any aspect of town governance and structure, chances are the answer is in our charter. However – as important as knowing what the charter is, it’s also critical to know what it isn’t. The

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