To the Editor:
On Nov. 3, we voters will be casting all-important votes for our next president and state and federal legislators. Equally important will be nine modifications to our town’s charter, titled Articles 2-10, each with a separate question on how our town government operates. Our charter is like our U.S. Constitution and, like the Constitution, should be changed carefully and cautiously.
Unfortunately, Articles 2, 4, 7 and 8, if passed by a majority of voters, will radically and unwisely change our current town government.
Article 2 would eliminate any Warrant Committee review of citizens’ initiatives, future charter changes and the school budget, which is the biggest part of our $26 million dollar town budget. It will deprive voters of important information on the ballot about Warrant Committee recommendations.
Article 4 would eliminate the exclusive power of citizens to vote on all zoning (LUO) changes and vest just nine councilors and Planning Board members with the right to unilaterally make zoning changes they deem “minor.”
Article 7 would greatly diminish the in-depth Warrant Committee budget review and fast-track our current careful budget development process that has stood the test of time for decades.
Article 8 would reduce the Warrant Committee membership to just 15, which is not enough to fully staff its five subcommittees with four or five member each. The current Warrant Committee of 22 has proven the most diverse elected body in the town and has repeatedly caught drafting mistakes that the Town Council, the Planning Board and/or the current Charter Commission have overlooked. We need the Warrant Committee’s full membership of 22 to let it continue to be an effective check and balance on other elected or appointed bodies.
Fortunately, several esteemed and hard-working Bar Harbor citizens, including our former long-time moderator, our former long-time Warrant Committee chairman, business owners, scientists, park employees and medical professionals have lent their support to a mailer that carefully explains why we citizens should vote “No” on Articles 2, 4, 7 and 8. Please read this important mailer.