Andy Churchill, who received the highest number of votes for the nine member Charter Commission at Tuesday's election, appeared before the Finance Committee last night to defend his petition article to Town Meeting requesting $30,000 in seed money over the next year or so for Charter expenses.
Andy Churchill is a former School Committee Chair
Churchill told the fiscal watchdogs he had talked to a member of the Collins Institute, a think tank who has provided such work to 14 Charter Commissions, and he corroborated the amount as "ball park".
Furthermore, the 2001 Amherst Charter Commission spent a total of $29,249 (over two campaigns) and East Longmeadow recently approved $30K for its Charter Commission.
The money would mainly go towards a consultant who would provide, "Expert support, do the legwork between meetings, research, organize articles, collect citizens input, and help draft the final legal document that will pass muster with the Attorney General."
The town is legally required to provide $5,000 to a Charter Commission within 20 days of the election and Churchill said his $30,000 figure did not include that amount, so he would amend his motion down to $25,000.
Finance Committee Chair Kay Moran also suggested he be less specific and simply make it a request for "Charter related expenses" rather than directly tying the entire amount to a consultant, since there will also be advertising and printing costs.
In addition he should spell out a source for the funding.
FinCom member Marylou Theilman suggested Churchill verify with the rest of the Charter Commission at their first meeting April 5 whether they approve of this request and get back to them by next week's meeting.
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The Charter Commission's initial agenda is to organize themselves by electing a Chair, Vice Chair and Clerk.
Since Churchill was by far the #1 choice of voters, he should be given the leadership role.