Charter Review Committee


    • July 22, Joint Meeting with Selectmen
    • Aug 5, 4pm
    • Aug 26, 4pm 
  • Town Hall
  • Old Water Dept.
    59 Town Hall Square
    Falmouth, MA 02540

Agendas & Minutes

Agendas are available prior to the meetings. Minutes are available following approval.
View Most Recent Agendas and Minutes


Twenty-six Recommendations to the Board of Selectmen for Charter Amendments from 20182019 Charter Review Committee-- July 22, 2019 

The Charter Review Committee presented 26 recommended amendments for the Charter to the Board of Selectmen on Monday, July 22. We will work with the Board through hearings and any resulting revisions or reorganization in order to make the most effective presentation of articles for the November Town Meeting.

We also intend to work on a range of suggestions to the Board that arose from our discussions with citizens and government participants, both volunteers and employees. Many valuable ideas did not fall within the scope of Charter changes. We expect to complete this added task about the time that Town Meeting will be taking its actions in November. We hope, then, to have a final report by mid December, 2019.

The 26 recommended amendments are listed in the linked document (see below) in the order of their impact on the sections and subsections of Charter language. However, they were developed in the context of six primary purposes or themes:

  1. alignment and consistency of major Town planning functions, and clarity of meeting processes needed to achieve them (see #s 11, 14, 15, 16, 25):
  2. clarity and operations of committees, boards and all the multi‐member bodies achieving public purposes for the Town (see #s 1, 12, 19, 20, 22, 23, 24);
  3. clarity of working relationships between the Board of Selectmen/Town Manager (executive) and Town Meeting (legislative) (see #s 9, 13, 21);
  4. gender‐neutrality (see #s 8, 10);
  5. clarity and consistency of terminology (see #s 2, 3, 4, 7, 18); and
  6. accuracy of information (see #s 5, 6, 17, 26).

Please feel free to contact the CRC to express concerns or questions by email or by direct contact. We have a public comment time at the start of each meeting. The Board of Selectmen will be holding their own hearings on the proposed amendments at some time before the September close of the warrant for November Town Meeting. It is likely that working with the Board we will look for ways to group some amendments to reduce the number of items.

We wish to express our appreciation for the time and energy of the Town Counsel and the Town Clerk and for the expenditure of Town resources to support our work.

Thank you for your interest and input.

General Work and Schedule

of the Fourth Charter Review Committee

To Falmouth Citizens:

The Charter Review Committee gathered ideas and concerns from officials and the public about the the Falmouth Home Rule Charter and identified areas in which revision could result in a more effective and responsive framework for local town government.

The eight areas that we identified for study are:

      1.   Gender-neutral Language re Selectme
2.    Finance/Budget Related Topics
3.   Guidelines on Appropriate Level of Detail in Charter Language; Implementation of        any Changes
4.    Clarifying and Aligning Terminology; Change in Definitions; Related Charts and            Lists
5.    Defining Appropriate Executive Authority for Efficient Management
6.    Managing  Effectiveness of Committees
7.    Coordinating and Aligning Planning Processes
8.    Making Certain Other Language Changes (Stand-alone areas)

We are embarking now on the more demanding work developing “provisional recommendations” for language changes. These will be added to the linked document below, “Developing Charter Recommendations.” We will be gathering community input and reactions from officials before creating the final recommended language. That will be sent in July to the Board of Selectmen for their review and action. These ideas move to the 2019 fall town meeting for action and then to a public vote as ballot questions in spring 2020.

A final report to the Board of Selectmen (see area 1 above) will include the recommendations for Charter changes and also other suggestions for improvement that need to be considered that don’t require specific Charter changes.

In collecting ideas and concerns, we:

  • developed ideas from our own study of the Charter and charters of similar towns
  • invited the public to send us email at
  • solicited ideas from every Town board, commission and committee that we could reach (over 30)
  • held 12 conversations with various town employees and groups (see minutes)
  • distributed on paper and electronically a survey and summarized the 91 responses (see CRC Summary and the raw data linked below)
  • conducted a public forum on December 19 (see minutes and the FCTV taping)
  • developed an “Evolving List of Questions” (see the link below) currently numbering 44 items. Some clearly relate to Charter language; others may need revision of policies and practices; some will not be pursued.

Many thanks for your attention to this process.

Sincerely, Peter Clark, Chair, for the Committee