Morrison discusses moving municipal elections to November

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By Corinne Westeman

The Morrison Town Board is considering putting amendments to the town charter up to vote this April, including moving town elections from April to November.

Based on board discussion during its Jan. 2 meeting, staff will bring forward two questions for the board to discuss at next Tuesday’s meeting, which would then be put on the April 3 ballot if approved by the board.

One question would be moving the election date to November. The second would be clearing up some inconsistent language in the town charter.

Any proposed changes to the town charter must be approved by a majority vote of the residents.

During board discussion, Trustee Venessa Angell suggested that the election date question could be written so as to take effect after the current board has been up for re-election. In that way, she explained, no current board member would serve an extra six months without having been re-elected first.

Her fellow trustees agreed with this decision, and staff said they would write the question so that, if approved, the April 2022 election would be moved to November 2022.

Thus, any board members elected or re-elected in April 2018 would serve until November 2022, Town Attorney Gerald E. Dahl clarified.

Board members discussed whether moving the election date to November would benefit the town, with Trustee Debora Jerome arguing that it would be less expensive, have a larger turnout, and be less work for municipal staff.

The board said it would continue its discussion on the town charter amendments next week, when staff would officially present both ballot questions.

‘Lack of uniformity’

The second possible April 3 ballot question would be making town charter more uniform, Dahl said.

The charter currently is inconsistent on the location and length of time for posting of meetings and adopted ordinances. One entry in the charter says “one place accessible to the public and on the website 72 hours ahead of the meeting,” while elsewhere it says “two locations and the website” and the hours aren’t consistent, Dahl continued.

Another proposed change is changing references to the “town administrator” to say the “town manager” instead, and changing the language from male-only pronouns to include both genders, he said.

Lastly, staff also has proposed changing the length of time on when ordinances go into effect, Dahl added. Currently, regular ordinances become effective 30 days after publication, but, depending on the timing, it might take 7-10 days for the ordinance to be published.

This lag time serves no one, Dahl said, and so staff has suggested changing it to 15 days after publication, which shortens the gap but still has enough lag time for the public to become aware and make necessary changes.

The board also intends to discuss these proposed amendments during its meeting Tuesday at 6 p.m. at the town hall.