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State asks for changes to Claremont's draft charter

CLAREMONT — The Charter Commission is being asked by state officials to make some minor changes to its proposed draft charter.

“We got their preliminary report back with their recommendations, the changes that they’d like us to make so they can approve it,” said Commission Chairman George Caccavaro Jr.

The Commission will meet soon to approve the approximately half a dozen changes requested and then send it back to the state for final approval, Caccavaro said.

“When it comes back it should be ready to be printed in the ballot,” Caccavaro said. “No show stopper.”

Most of the changes are “housekeeping” in nature, he said. The biggest change required for state approval is dropping a requirement of mayoral candidates. The commission put in its proposed draft that candidates running for mayor were required to attend a community forum to be vetted by the community, Caccavaro said.

State officials told the commission in their report that candidates are only required by state law to be residents and registered voters of the city.

The Commission finalized its draft charter at the end of June, but during approval was split on a major change proposed to the form of Claremont’s city government.

The proposed charter would shift the city from a city manager and city council-run city to a mayor and aldermen-run system. Cities like Manchester and Nashua have the mayor and aldermen city government.

In March, commission members Joe Osgood, Rusty Fowler, Ron Gilbert, Cynthia Howard and Paul LaCasse voted for the motion to convert to a mayor/ aldermen form of city government, while Robert Porter, Raymond Gagnon and Nick Koloski voted against it. Caccavaro said at the time he would only vote to break a tie.

On June 27, though, Caccavaro expressed his opposition to the proposed change by voting with Raymond Gagnon and Nick Koloski against moving the proposed charter forward, sending it to the to the state for review.

Joe Osgood, Robert Porter, Rusty Fowler, Ron Gilbert, Cynthia Howard and Paul LaCasse voted in favor of sending the proposed draft charter to the state for review.

Currently no elected Claremont city official is compensated for their work, said Caccavaro, however, under the proposed charter the mayor would be paid $90,000 a year, plus a single person insurance plan and aldermen each would be paid $3,000 a year.

Caccavaro said the proposed charter would give too much power to an elected official who may or may not be qualified to run a city.

He also said the drastic change could be voted down by voters and with it all of the commission’s proposed changes, because it is too big a change and Claremont residents don’t have a history of paying elected officials.

“I don’t think they are ready to start paying their elected officials,” he said.

The proposed charter would go before voters at several public hearing that would be up for a vote in November.

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