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Moving Salem ordinances online is a daunting task

SALEM — Putting all the town’s ordinances online isn’t as easy as scanning a bunch of old documents and posting them on the official town website.

As town officials work to make all town ordinances available online, they want to make sure they are both correct and relevant. That means that over the next year or so, voters may be asked to do away with or adjust some ordinances that have been on the books for decades.

“There are reams of corrections or questions that have to be asked to all sorts of boards, including the Board of Selectmen,” said Town Manager Keith Hickey.

Selectmen and other town boards will have to decide if they want to keep the ordinances as they are currently written, whether there are adjustments or corrections that need to be made, or if they should be rescinded altogether. That means that every ordinance that originally came before voters will have to go back on the ballot if there are changes.

“The go-live date is still close to a year away,” said Hickey. “We’re still processing the paperwork as quickly as we can to try to get this updated.”

Over the next month, Hickey said selectmen will begin to see batches of the ordinances so they can determine what, if any, changes need to be made.Because some of the ordinances haven’t been changed since the early 1980s, Hickey said there will be cases where the times have changed considerably since the ordinances have been placed on the books or updated.

Hickey referenced ordinances regarding a town curfew and bike licenses that are still officially on the books but have not effectively been used for decades.

Selectman Stephen Campbell noted that if an ordinance is still in place, it should be put online until it is rescinded or changed.

“The point to this was how do we hold people accountable if there is no place for them to know what the rules are,” Campbell said. “I agree that if there are stupid rules, they are still rules, and by putting them online, maybe that encourages us to have a bunch (ready) for next March to ask the people to rescind them. I don’t think we can leave them out just because they are stupid.”

Campbell also said he understands it will take some time to have all the town ordinances ready to go online, but added that he would like to see the town administration have milestones in place to have the project completed.

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Darci Lynne
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