FAIRFIELD — A panel deciding whether to recommend major changes to town government wants residents to share their opinions.

The Fairfield Charter Commission will hold a public hearing at 10 a.m. Saturday in the Community Center on Water Street to get input on proposed changes to the way town government operates.

The commission was formed last year to review the town’s governing charter, which has not been changed substantively since it was adopted 30 years ago.

In particular, the commission is debating whether to continue holding a town meeting to approve a budget or change the document to either give the Town Council the authority to approve a spending plan or allow residents to vote on a budget in a secret ballot.

Commission Chairwoman Dawn DiBlasi said Thursday that the panel is expected to make its recommendations on changes to the charter in August, and it will go to the voters in a referendum in November.

Although the issue has not picked up a lot of public interest, commissioners want to hear what people think about the process, DiBlasi said.

“It is important for us to get the community involved so they can tell us what they want to do,” DiBlasi said. “Some things are working fine. Other things just aren’t working anymore.”

The commission has worked on making small fixes such as adding language to have a review of the charter every five years and increasing the amount of money the town manager is authorized to spend in emergency situations, but the real debate is about whether to keep town meetings to approve a budget, DiBlasi said.

Town meetings are often thinly attended and there have been some occasions when the town has not been able to reach a quorum of 50 people required to pass a budget. Although there are challenges, it appears commissioners are leaning toward keeping that form of government, she said. Other options being considered are enhancing the authority of the Town Council so it can approve a budget without a town vote, or expanding the voting to an all-day secret ballot referendum on the budget, the form nearby Clinton uses.

The most challenging aspect of the commission has been getting people involved and interested, DiBlasi said.

When the council first floated the idea in 2014, voters rejected it, even though candidates to the commission were elected to seats.

Town officials said voters did not understand the reason for the commission and proposed it again last year. But the town struggled to attract candidates to serve on the panel. Six commissioners eventually were elected with write-in votes.

DiBlasi said only five people showed up at a public hearing on the commission in January. She finally took to approaching people and personally passing out fliers at the Fairfield Chocolate Festival last month in an attempt to get residents to attend and take an interest. Some people she talked to didn’t know they even had an opportunity to vote on the town budget at all, she added.

“It was interesting to hear how many people didn’t understand the process,” DiBlasi said.

Peter McGuire — 861-9239

[email protected]

Twitter: @PeteL_McGuire