Charter Review Commission nears finish line

Charter Review Commission nears finish line

SMITHFIELD – The Charter Review Commission is making its final decisions on proposed changes to the Town Charter this week.

Of those recommended changes, Chairman Al Costantino said removing the old-time practice of a Financial Town Meeting may be the most practical. The practice seems impractical, especially after dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, where the town has not been able to hold a meeting due to social distancing, he said.

“If we get this approved, there will be no FTM next year. If this gets approved,” he said.

According to Costantino, the process has been a lot of work but the committed members of the committee took the job seriously.

Once completed, the committee will hold a public workshop with the Town Council on June 30 to discuss the proposed changes.

Likely changes include switching the town government head from an appointed town manager to an elected administrator, forgoing the FTM for a financial review board and budget committee, setting staggered term limits for Town Council members, establishing a capital committee for future infrastructure needs, and creating a management internal control program to ensure accurate reporting to the council.

Language outlining the switch to an elected town administrator has not been finalized yet, Costantino said. After meetings this week, he expects a clearer understanding of the role, including term limits and political affiliations.

Costantino says he feels strongly that the town would be better run with an elected official who “works for the people” as in other towns such as Lincoln.

“I don’t know about this town. I see how Lincoln operates, and it operates a lot better than Smithfield,” he said.

Following a June 30 workshop, the Town Council will hold a public hearing to discuss the proposed charter changes. The council may choose to approve changes to be sent to the ballot in November.

Costantino anticipates the public hearing to be held during the council’s first meeting next month on July 14.