WATERVILLE — The Charter Commission on Tuesday night discussed the current process and timetable for approving city and school budgets, with some members questioning whether it would be more appropriate to do final approvals later in the year.

Member Phil Bofia said it does not make sense that the school budget is not finalized when the City Council takes a final vote on the municipal and school budget.

The way it works now, the Waterville Board of Education takes a final vote on the school budget after the council makes a final decision.

“I just believe all the numbers should be on the table before the City Council votes on a final budget,” Bofia said.

Commission member Julian Payne, also a member of the Board of Education, said the board does not necessarily have state revenue numbers by the time the council votes on the budgets. He said City Manager Michael Roy and school Superintendent Eric Haley are scheduled to meet to discuss that issue.

Commission Co-Chairman Tom Nale Jr. said he can understand how state revenue figures would impact the city’s tax rate, but he cannot understand how that would affect the city budget, if councilors decide so much money needs to be spent.

“We shouldn’t be waiting and saying we’ll hold off on expenditures until we know what our revenue is,” he said.

Bofia asked if the budget could be considered for approval later in the year. Typically the budget is approved in June or July. The city’s fiscal year is July 1 to June 30.

“What would be the impact of moving the budget to September?” Bofia said.

City Clerk Patti Dubois said she is not an expert on the matter, but there are municipalities that have moved their budget years.

“I think that can be done,” she said. “I don’t know the ins and outs of it, but there is a mechanism to change the fiscal year.”

The city and school budgets were among several topics the commission discussed Tuesday at its meeting in the Front Street Conference Room in the basement of City Hall. A few members of the public attended, including state Rep. Bruce White, D-Waterville, City Councilor Rick Foss, R-Ward 5, and residents Nancy Sanford and Sharon Labbe.

Some residents at a public hearing several weeks ago requested the budget process be changed to allow residents to vote on budgets.

Meanwhile, Payne said he has heard from people who think the city clerk’s position should be an elected one, as is the case in Skowhegan. Member Cathy Weeks said she had heard the same sentiment.

The city charter is like a local constitution that governs how the city operates. It requires that voters every seven years be asked whether a charter commission should be established to revise the charter or establish a new one. Voters in November decided to establish the commission and elected charter commission members from each city ward. The city council also appointed three members.

The commission reviews the charter and makes recommendations as to what changes, if any, should be made. There is no legal requirement that changes be made. The commission also receives public input, as it did at last week’s public hearing.

The commission a few weeks ago formed subcommittees to explore various aspects of the city charter and whether parts of it should be changed or remain the same. Nale said the subcommittees members have spoken to all current and some former city councilors, the mayor, city manager and former charter commission members.

“It’s a significant amount of work and it was fortunate that we had 10 people willing to do it,” he said of commission members.

Issues the panel is exploring include whether to maintain the mayor’s position, as well as the city’s ward system.

Member Lutie Brown said she spoke with state Rep. Colleen Madigan, a Democrat who represents part of Waterville and part of Oakland, and Madigan thinks the mayor should testify in Augusta under the city’s letterhead only if discussing city business, and that the ward system should not be changed. Former Mayor Karen Heck voiced the same opinion about the mayor’s testifying in Augusta.

Member Hilary Koch said her subcommittee looked at other municipalities it thought might have something in common with Waterville, including Augusta, Bangor, Biddeford, Brunswick, Oakland, Orono, Portland, Westbrook and Sidney.

Subcommittee members looked at issues, including partisan elections, whether those municipalities have a mayor position, whether they implement ranked-choice voting, whether they have the ability to recall a mayor or councilors, whether residents vote on budgets, what they have for residency requirements for voting and whether term limits are required.

She said members of the subcommittee agreed on some issues.

“We all agreed that we like having the wards and we didn’t see any need to change them,” Koch said. “We agreed on the mayor — we all think we should have a mayor and don’t want ranked-choice voting.”

The commission Tuesday deliberated on 13 recommendations from Dubois for nonsubstantive, clerical changes or clarifications in the charter.

The schedule for commission meetings, which are open to the public, is listed on the city’s website — www.waterville-me.gov.

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