APPENDIX D HOME RULE CHARTER

TOWN OF LITTLE COMPTON

ADOPTED 1994

EFFECTIVE JANUARY 1995

AMENDED 1998

AMENDED 2000

AMENDED 2002

AMENDED 2006

 

ARTICLE I Incorporation And Powers Of The Town 2

Section 101. Incorporation. 2

Section 102. Powers of the Town. 3

Section 103. Town Property. 3

Section 104. Intergovernmental Relations. 3

ARTICLE II Elections 3

Section 201. Election Laws and Conduct of Elections. 3

Section 202. Canvassing Authority. 3

Section 203. Initiative and Referendum. 4

Section 204. Elections to Office at Town Meeting. 5

ARTICLE III Financial Town Meeting 5

Section 301. Date and Purpose of Financial Town Meeting. 5

Section 302. Recessed and Special Town Meetings. 6

Section 303. Town Moderator. 6

Section 304. Notice and Agenda for Meetings. 6

Section 305. Conduct of Meetings. 6

Section 306. Proposals for Expenditure Outside of Budget. 6

ARTICLE IV Town Council 7

Section 401. Composition, Election and Terms. 7

Section 402. Manner of Election; Qualifications. 7

Section 403. Compensation and Expenses. 7

Section 404. President and Vice President. 7

Section 405. Eligibility of Council Members; Town Employment. 7

Section 406. Council Vacancies. 8

Section 407. Forfeiture of Office. 8

Section 408. Meetings and Procedures. 8

Section 409. Legislative Powers; Ordinances. 8

Section 410. Procedure for Adopting Ordinances. 9

Section 411. Emergency Ordinances. 9

Section 412. Investigations. 9

Section 413. Additional Council Responsibilities. 10

ARTICLE V Financial Procedures 10

Section 501. Fiscal Year. 10

Section 502. Budget Committee. 10

Section 503. Preparation of the Budget. 11

Section 504. Public Hearings on Budget. 11

Section 505. Capital Program. 11

Section 506. Purchases and Accounting Control. 12

Section 507. Budget Administration; Lapse of Appropriations. 12

Section 508. Emergency Appropriations. 12

Section 509. Fees Paid to the Town. 12

Section 510. Budget Adjustments. 13

Section 511. Council Discretionary Fund. 13

Section 512. Reserve Fund. 13

ARTICLE VI Town Officials 13

Section 601. Town Business Manager. 13

Section 602. Town Clerk. 13

Section 603. Town Treasurer/Tax Collector. 14

Section 604. Town Solicitor. 14

Section 605. Tax Assessors. 14

Section 606. Tax Assessment Board of Review. 14

Section 607. Town Sergeant. 15

Section 608. Inspections and Inspectors. 15

Section 609. Probate Judge and Probate Court. 15

Section 610. Local Director of Emergency Management. 15

Section 611. Director of Social Services. 15

ARTICLE VII Boards and Commissions 16

Section 701. Planning Board. 16

Section 702. Zoning Board of Review. 16

Section 703. Conservation Commission. 16

Section 704. Beach Commission. 17

Section 705. Agricultural Conservancy Trust. 17

Section 706. Pension Committee. 17

Section 707. Harbor Commission. 18

Section 708. Little Compton Free Public Library. 18

Section 709. Auditorium-Gymnasium Committee. 18

Section 710. Recreation, Conservation and Open Space Committee. 18

Section 711. Little Compton Housing Trust. 19

ARTICLE VIII School Department 19

Section 801. School Committee. 19

Section 802. Qualifications. 19

Section 803. Vacancies. 19

Section 804. Organization, Rules, Compensation. 19

Section 805. Powers and Duties. 19

Section 806. Buildings and Grounds, Purchasing. 20

ARTICLE IX Other Town Departments 20

Section 901. Police Department. 20

Section 902. Fire Department. 20

Section 903. Director of Public Works. 21

ARTICLE X General Provisions 21

Section 1001. Open Records. 21

Section 1002. Open Meetings. 21

Section 1003. Ethics. 21

Section 1004. Amendments of Charter. 21

Section 1005. Charter Construction and Severability 22

Section 1006. Appointments, Qualifications and Vacancies. 22

Section 1007. Suspension and Disqualification from Office. 22

Section 1008. Meaning of Publication. 23

ARTICLE Xl Transitional Provisions 23

Section 1101. Effective Date of Charter. 23

Section 1102. Transitional Elections and Appointment. 23

Section 1103. Transfer of Appropriations. 23

Section 1104. Continuation of Laws and Ordinances. 24

Section 1105. Continuation of Obligations. 24

Section 1106. Pending Actions and Proceedings. 24

Section 1107. Continuation of Agencies. 24

Section 1108. Continuation of Present Personnel. 24

 

ARTICLE I Incorporation And Powers Of The Town

 

Section 101. Incorporation.

 

The inhabitants of the Town of Little Compton in the State of Rhode Island, within the corporate limits as now established or as hereafter established in the manner provided by law, shall continue to be a municipal body politic and corporate, under the name of the Town of Little Compton in perpetuity, to be governed under the provisions of this Home Rule Charter as adopted and as it may be amended.

 

Section 102. Powers of the Town.

 

The Town shall have all powers possible for a town to have under the Constitution and laws of this State, now or as amended in the future, as fully and completely as though they were specifically enumerated in this Charter. All powers which the Town may exercise shall be construed liberally in favor of the Town, and the specific mention of particular powers in this Charter shall not be construed as limiting in any way the general power stated in this article.

 

Section 103. Town Property.

 

The Town may acquire property within or without its corporate limits for any municipal purpose, in fee simple or any lesser interest or estate, by purchase, gift, devise or lease, and within its limits by condemnation as such takings may be authorized by law, and may sell, mortgage, exchange, hold, manage and control such property as its interests may require, provided that any such acquisition, or any sale, mortgage, exchange, or lease of real property shall, exclusive of acquisitions by the Little Compton Agricultural Conservancy Trust as hereinafter set forth, be approved by the Financial Town Meeting.

 

Section 104. Intergovernmental Relations.

 

The Town may exercise any of its powers or perform any of its functions, and may participate in the financing thereof, jointly or in cooperation, by contract or otherwise, with any one or more towns or civil divisions or agencies thereof, or any other State, or the United States or any agency thereof, provided that any such contract or agreement is in accord with applicable State law and Constitutional provisions and is approved by the Financial Town Meeting upon recommendation of the Town Council.

 

ARTICLE II Elections

 

Section 201. Election Laws and Conduct of Elections.

 

The provisions of the Constitution and General Laws of the State, now or hereafter in effect, pertaining to elections, special, general and primary, and also any special acts pertaining to elections in the Town of Little Compton, now or hereafter in effect, shall govern all Town elections, special, general and primary, so far as they may be applicable, excepting those provisions which are inconsistent with the provisions of this Charter affecting the form of government.

 

Section 202. Canvassing Authority.

 

There shall be a bipartisan canvassing authority, to be called the Board of Canvassers, of three members who are qualified electors of the Town, not more than two (2) of whom shall belong to the same political party. The President of the Town Council shall nominate the members of the canvassing authority to the Council from lists of party voters submitted by the respective chairmen of the Town political committees. If the Council shall refuse to approve the nomination of any person so nominated, the President shall submit another person named on one of the lists until a person shall be appointed. If the chairman of the Town committee of a political party entitled to an appointment shall fail or refuse to submit a list as aforesaid, the President shall nominate any party voter of that political party. The Council may appoint, in the same manner as aforesaid, two (2) alternate members, not more than one (1) of whom shall belong to the same political party, to serve in the absence of a member. An alternate so serving shall be of the same political party as the absent member. In the event of a vacancy in the membership of the Authority, the Council shall appoint the alternate member who is of the same political party as the member to be replaced and appoint a new alternate member, or if no alternate member is available for appointment, the Council shall appoint a member following the procedure provided in this Section. All such appointees shall serve for the balance of the unexpired term.

 

A. Each member of the Board of Canvassers shall be appointed to serve for a term of six (6) years beginning on the first Monday of March succeeding the date of his or her appointment and until his or her successor is appointed and qualified. No person may serve on the Board who is an officer or employee of the United States or of the State or of any City or Town of the State, or is a candidate for any public office.

 

B. The Board of Canvassers shall be vested with all of the powers and duties now or hereafter vested by law in the canvassing authority of the Town. All members of the Board of Canvassers shall continue in office as members thereof until the expiration of the terms for which they were respectively appointed.

 

Section 203. Initiative and Referendum.

 

A. The electors of the Town shall have the right to participate directly in the making of policy decisions by petition and direct vote, in the following ways:

 

(1) Initiative.

 

The electors of the Town may propose ordinances to the Council and, if the Council fails to adopt an ordinance so proposed without any change in substance, to have the authority to adopt said ordinance at a special or general election, provided however, that such power shall not extend to the comprehensive plan or to zoning;

 

(2) Referendum.

 

The electors of the Town shall have power to request reconsideration by the Council of any adopted ordinance and, if the Council fails to repeal the ordinance upon such request, to repeal it at a special or general election, provided however, that such power shall not extend to the comprehensive plan or to zoning.

 

B. Any five (5) qualified electors of the Town may commence action pursuant to one of the procedures outlined in Subsection A hereof by filing with the Town Clerk an affidavit stating that they will constitute the petitioners' committee and be responsible for circulating the petition and filing it in proper form. The affidavit shall state the names and the addresses of said electors, specify the address to which all notices to the committee are to be sent, and set out in full the proposed initiative, or referendum that is the subject of their petition. Promptly after the affidavit is filed, the Town Clerk shall issue the appropriate petition blanks to petitioners' committee.

 

C. The petitions shall be signed and filed and Council action taken thereon in the following manner:

 

(1) All such petitions must be signed by ten percent (10%) of the electors registered to vote on the date on which the petition blanks are issued to the petitioners' committee by the Town Clerk. The petitioners shall have thirty (30) days from date of issue to collect the necessary signatures and file the completed petition with the Town Clerk, who shall transmit it immediately to the Board of Canvassers for signature verification. If the petition is determined to have sufficient valid signatures, the Board shall so certify to the Town Clerk.

 

(2) When an initiative or referendum petition has been certified as having sufficient signatures, the Council shall promptly consider the proposed initiative ordinance or reconsider the referred ordinance, in the same manner as provided for adoption of an ordinance proposed by a member of the Council. If the Council fails to adopt a proposed initiative ordinance without any change in substance, or fails to repeal the referred ordinance, as the case may be, within forty-five (45) days after the date the petition is certified, the Council shall cause the proposed or referred ordinance to be placed before the electors of the Town for a vote as provided in Subsection D below.

 

D. Any petition to initiate an ordinance or to repeal an ordinance upon which the Council has not acted favorably shall be placed before the electors for a vote at the next general election if one is scheduled to be held ninety (90) days or less following Council action thereon, or at a special election called for the purpose. Any such special election shall be scheduled to take place no less than forty-five (45) nor more than sixty (60) days following Council action. All petitions provided for under the terms of this Section for which sufficient signatures have not been gathered shall be null and void.

 

E. The results of the vote of the electors on any petition placed before them under the terms of this Section shall be as follows:

 

(1) If a majority of the qualified electors voting on a proposed initiative ordinance vote in its favor, it shall be considered adopted upon certification of the election results, and it shall be treated in all respects in the same manner as ordinances of the same kind adopted by the Council, provided however, that any ordinance enacted pursuant to the initiative procedure shall not be repealed, or amended as to substance, less than one (1) year following its adoption. If conflicting ordinances are approved at the same election, the one receiving the greatest number of affirmative votes shall prevail to the extent of such conflict.

 

(2) If a majority of the qualified electors voting on a petition to repeal an ordinance vote for repeal, it shall be considered repealed upon certification of the results of the election. No ordinance so repealed shall be re-enacted by the Council less than one (1) year following its repeal.

 

Section 204. Elections to Office at Town Meeting.

 

In instances in which this Charter provides that there be elections to Town offices conducted at the annual Financial Town Meeting, such elections shall be conducted as herein provided. All such elections shall be by paper ballot and all candidate names listed on such ballots shall carry no other identification besides their addresses. Electors wishing to become candidates for offices to be filled at the Financial Town Meeting shall declare their intent in writing to the Town Clerk no later than twenty-one (21) days prior to the date of the election. The Town Clerk shall publish at least twice the names of all such candidates prior to the date of the Town Meeting. The Board of Canvassers shall prepare an appropriate ballot to be provided to electors upon their entrance into the voting area at the Town Meeting. The elector shall vote the ballot before leaving the voting area. The elector may vote by entering the voting area, at their convenience, at any time following the opening of the meeting place for the transaction of the Town Meeting and for one-half hour after the adjournment of the Town Meeting. Vacancies occurring in any such office following election as provided herein shall be filled for the remainder of the term by the unelected candidate for the vacated position with the highest number of votes from the most recent election to that position for Budget Committee or Beach Commission as appropriate, or if that person is unavailable or unwilling to serve, shall be filled by the Town Council. (Reso. 7/11/02; approved at election of 11/5/02; Reso. 7/6/06; approved at election of 11/7/06)

 

ARTICLE III Financial Town Meeting

 

Section 301. Date and Purpose of Financial Town Meeting.

 

A. The electors of the Town of Little Compton shall assemble annually in Financial Town Meeting at a date, time and place to be established by the Town Council, said date and time to be set by the Council no later than February 1st of each year, with the meeting to take place during the third full week in May. The purpose of the annual Financial Town Meeting shall be for the imposing of a tax, for providing for the expenditure of such sums of money as may be necessary to pay the Town's debts and interest thereon, for the support of Town services for the ensuing fiscal year, for the expenditure of funds from any source for all other lawful purposes, and for transacting such other business as may lawfully come before such meeting.

 

B. No money shall be drawn from the general fund, nor from moneys in any other Town fund, during the fiscal year, except pursuant to appropriations made at the annual or at a special Financial Town Meeting, subject to the exception provided for emergency appropriations in Section 508 below. Funds received by and under the control of the Agricultural Conservancy Trust shall not be subject to this requirement for annual appropriation or reappropriation. This subsection shall not be interpreted to restrict the Town Treasurer from making transfers of funds for investment purposes. The general fund is hereby defined as the general Town account into which all receipts are deposited and from which moneys are withdrawn pursuant to Town meeting appropriations, as distinguished from any and all specially designated funds established by or with the approval of the Town meeting as the depository for moneys received and to be expended for specifically designated purposes.

 

Section 302. Recessed and Special Town Meetings.

 

The annual Financial Town Meeting may be recessed to a subsequent date by vote of the electors present. Any such recessed Financial Town Meeting shall be reconvened one week after the date of the original Financial Town Meeting, and, as may be necessary, at one week intervals thereafter. Special Town meetings may be called by the Town Council or by petition of ten percent (10%) of the electors of the Town and shall be warned and limited as to subjects to be considered as provided in State law, pursuant to the provisions of Chapter 3, Title 45, Sections 6 and 7 of the General Laws. (Reso. 7/6/06; approved at election of 11/7/06)

 

Section 303. Town Moderator.

 

There shall be a Town Moderator, who shall be elected at the general election in each even numbered year, to serve for a term of two years and until his or her successor is elected and qualified. By the last day of January of the year following each general election the Town Council shall appoint with the approval of the Moderator an Assistant Town Moderator to serve for a term concurrent with that of the Moderator, who shall perform the duties of Moderator at any time that the Town Moderator is unable to serve or upon the request of the Town Moderator. The Assistant Town Moderator shall be an elector of the Town. The Town Moderator, or the Assistant Town Moderator as aforesaid, shall preside at all regular and special Town meetings. If both Moderator and Assistant Moderator are unable to preside, the Town Council shall appoint an interim Moderator who shall serve until either the elected Moderator or Assistant Moderator are able to resume their position during their term of office. (Reso. 7/6/06; approved at election of 11/7/06)

 

Section 304. Notice and Agenda for Meetings.

 

The warrant for any Town meeting shall be prepared and the meeting shall be warned as provided by law. Warrant items may be grouped to be moved and voted on as a unit, provided however, that the Town meeting may amend or vote separately on individual items in such grouping. The order of items to be considered at the meeting may be changed by a two-thirds vote of the electors present and voting. The listing and text of the warrant items to be voted on shall be posted with the warrant. The format of the Budget Committee report as supplied to the electors shall conform to the listing of warrant items which shall have been determined as aforesaid.

 

Section 305. Conduct of Meetings.

 

The Town Moderator shall have all of the authority conferred upon moderators by State law in conducting and managing the business of Town meetings. The quorum for any Town meeting shall be five percent (5%) of the electors of the Town of Little Compton. Pursuant to the State open meetings law, the Moderator shall grant permission for the admission of persons who are not electors of the Town, provided however, that all such persons may be seated in an assigned area apart from the seating for electors, and shall have no right to vote, and no right to speak except with the specific permission of the Moderator.

 

Section 306. Proposals for Expenditure Outside of Budget.

 

No proposal for the expenditure of money, other than those contained in the budget as compiled from the Town officer's and departmental requests shall be acted upon by the Town Meeting unless it shall have been presented in a petition signed by no less than fifty (50) electors of the Town no later than the sixth day of March, except to include no fewer than five (5) business days from the March 1st deadline established in Section 503 of this Charter. All such petitions and proposals for expenditure shall indicate the agency or organization for which the appropriation is requested and the specific purposes, in the form of a line item breakdown where appropriate, for which the request for appropriation is being made. The petitions and proposals shall be reviewed by the Budget Committee and recommendations thereon shall be included in the Budget Committee report, and shall appear in the posted list of warrant items, and identified as a citizen stroke. (Reso. 7/20/00; approved at election 11/7/00)

 

ARTICLE IV Town Council

 

Section 401. Composition, Election and Terms.

 

There shall be a Town Council of five members, elected at large by the qualified electors of the Town, each to serve for a term of two years, and until his or her successor is elected and qualified.

 

Section 402. Manner of Election; Qualifications.

 

The election of members of the Council shall be held on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November in each even numbered year, in the manner provided for in the election laws of the State. All candidates for Council member must be qualified electors of the Town, and residents thereof, and must remain qualified electors and residents throughout their term of office. The terms of members of the Council shall begin upon the issuance of their certificates of election. The five candidates receiving the greatest numbers of votes shall be elected. Outgoing Council members shall offer full cooperation to their successors and shall observe the principle that all files, records and documents defined as public records in the open records legislation of the State, which they used during their tenure, are the property of the Town and are to be conveyed in good order to their successors.

 

Section 403. Compensation and Expenses.

 

The members of the Council shall receive such compensation as shall be fixed by the Financial Town Meeting and such benefits as the Town meeting may provide pursuant to the provisions of this Charter. Council members shall be entitled to receive their actual and necessary expenses incurred in the performance of their duties of office as requested upon vouchers approved by vote of the Council.

 

Section 404. President and Vice President.

 

The Council shall elect from among its members a President and a Vice President, each of whom shall serve at the pleasure of the Council. The President shall preside at all meetings of the Council and shall be recognized as the head of the Town government for ceremonial purposes and by the Governor for purposes of military law. The Vice President shall act as President during the absence of the President. (Reso. 7/6/06; approved at election of 11/7/06)

 

Section 405. Eligibility of Council Members; Town Employment.

 

No person, with the exception of members running for reelection, shall be eligible for election to the Council if he or she holds any paid public office or employment in the Town as of the certification of his or her election. A Council member shall not be eligible for appointment to any paid office or employment in the Town during the term for which he or she was elected to the Council nor for one (1) year thereafter. A Council member may hold elective Town office immediately succeeding his or her term on the Council.

 

Section 406. Council Vacancies.

 

In the event that the office of a Council member shall become vacant following election as provided herein, such vacancy shall be filled for the remainder of the term by the unelected candidate for the vacated position with the highest number of votes from the most recent election for such office, or, if that person is unavailable or unwilling to serve, shall be filled by the Town Council. (Reso. 7/11/02; approved at election 11/5/02; Reso. 7/6/06; approved at election of 11/7/06)

 

Section 407. Forfeiture of Office.

 

The grounds and procedures for forfeiture of Council office shall be as follows:

 

A. A Council member shall be required to forfeit his or her office if he or she: (1) ceases at any time to fulfill any of the qualifications for the office prescribed by this Charter or by State law, (2) is disqualified from holding office under the terms of Section 1007 B. of this Charter, or (3) attends no regularly scheduled Council meeting for a period of three (3) consecutive months without being excused by vote of the Council. The remaining members of the Council shall fill any vacancy caused by such forfeiture or disqualification from office in the manner set forth in Section 406 above.

 

B. The Council shall be the judge of the qualifications of its members, or as to whether grounds for forfeiture of the office of any member exist, and for that purpose shall have power to subpoena witnesses, administer oaths and require the production of evidence. A member whose qualification for office or forfeiture of office is at issue, shall be entitled to demand a public hearing, and notice of such hearing shall be published at least one week in advance. Decisions made by the Council under this section shall be subject to review by the courts.

 

Section 408. Meetings and Procedures.

 

The first meeting of a newly elected Council shall be held on the first Thursday following the certification of the election of a majority of its members by the canvassing authority. The Town Clerk shall preside until the selection of a Town Council President. The Council shall determine and give notice of the time, place and dates of its regular meetings for the ensuing calendar year, which shall be held at least once each month. The posting of notice of all meetings, including special meetings, shall be in accordance with State law. The Town Clerk shall serve as clerk of the Council. The Council President shall at all times have the same right to vote on matters before the Council as any other member, and may make and second motions. The Council shall adopt and may amend its own rules, and shall make reasonable provision to allow persons in attendance at its meetings opportunity to speak. A quorum for Council meetings shall consist of three members; and a minimum of three affirmative votes shall be required for the adoption of any ordinance. The Council may adopt a designated parliamentary manual for use to supplement its own rules.

 

A. Special meetings of the Council may be called by the President, and shall be called by the President upon receipt of written requests for a special meeting from two Council members. All Council members shall be notified of any special meeting and of the business to be conducted thereat by letter delivered by registered mail or by messenger at their places of residence at least forty-eight (48) hours in advance, unless an emergency requires the more rapid convening of a meeting.

 

Section 409. Legislative Powers; Ordinances.

 

The Council shall have the power to enact, amend or repeal ordinances for the preservation of the public peace, health, safety, comfort and welfare, and for the protection of persons and property, to provide reasonable penalties as allowed under State law for the violation of any ordinance; and to exercise all additional powers, consistent with the Charter and the laws and constitution of the State. All the legislative powers vested in the Town by State law and the Constitution shall be exercised by the Town Council except those reserved to the Financial Town Meeting and to the people through the initiative and referendum procedures.

 

Section 410. Procedure for Adopting Ordinances.

 

Ordinances of the Town and amendments thereto shall be adopted by the Council in accordance with the following procedure and any additional procedures required by State law:

 

A. A proposed ordinance or amendment to an existing ordinance may be introduced by any member of the Council at any regular or special meeting. Upon introduction, and if seconded, any proposed ordinance shall be distributed to the members, a copy filed in the office of the Town Clerk, and the text published. In the case of amendments to ordinances, if seconded upon introduction, the Town Clerk shall distribute copies as aforesaid, and shall either post or publish the text as the Council may direct in each instance.

 

B. At the meeting at which a proposed ordinance or amendment to an existing ordinance is introduced, the Council shall cause a copy to be provided to the Town Solicitor for his or her review as to form and legality, and shall make provision for holding a hearing thereon as the first item of business at its next scheduled meeting, provided that such hearing shall occur at least five (5) business days following publication of the text thereof.

 

C. The Council may adopt any ordinance or amendment to an existing ordinance following the hearing thereon at the same meeting, or at a subsequent meeting, provided however, if the proposed ordinance or amendment is substantially altered following the hearing thereon, the altered portion of the ordinance or amendment must be published, and subjected to a hearing as provided above before final adoption by the Council. (Reso. 7/6/06; approved at election of 11/7/06)

 

Section 411. Emergency Ordinances.

 

The following ordinance procedure may be used in times of public emergency:

 

A. The Council may adopt one or more emergency ordinances when necessary to protect life, health, property and the public peace. An emergency shall be defined as a situation wherein the public health, safety and/or general welfare of the Town are imminently imperiled by an unusual or unforeseen circumstance. In such a case the Council may suspend the provisions of Section 410 above in whole or in part to deal with the emergency by ordinance. Any such ordinance shall define clearly and specifically in its text the nature of the emergency at which it is directed and the necessity for the action provided for. Only emergency ordinances clearly essential to deal with the situation shall be enacted under suspension of Section 410.

 

B. An emergency ordinance shall be introduced in the form and manner prescribed for ordinances generally and may be adopted with or without amendment or may be rejected at the meeting at which it is introduced. Adoption shall require the vote of at least three (3) members of the Council.

 

C. All emergency ordinances shall become effective upon adoption or at such later time as may be specified therein and shall automatically stand repealed as of the sixty-first (61st) day following the date on which they took effect but may be reenacted in the manner specified in this Section for a period of no more than sixty (60) additional days if the emergency still exists. An emergency ordinance may also be repealed by a repealing ordinance in the same manner specified in this Section for adoption of emergency ordinances.

 

Section 412. Investigations.

 

The Council may in the interest of the Town make investigations into the affairs of the Town and the conduct of any Town department, office or agency, with the exception of the School Committee and school department, and for this purpose may subpoena witnesses, administer oaths, take testimony and require the production of evidence.

 

Section 413. Additional Council Responsibilities.

 

It shall be the duty and responsibility of the Council to:

 

A. Make all necessary arrangements, by contracting with an appropriate firm specializing in said work, or otherwise, to keep the codified ordinances of the Town up to date through a system which shall provide the texts of new or revised ordinances for insertion therein no later than one year following passage.

 

B. Approve every proposal for borrowing moneys for which the credit of the Town will be pledged, including any and all proposals which call for the issuance of bonds or notes, or the entering into of any lease purchase or similar agreements which extend beyond a single fiscal year, and shall arrange for approval thereof by the electors of the Town either at a regular or special Town meeting or at a Town-wide referendum held at a general or special election, as may be appropriate or required by State law. The credit of the Town shall not be pledged unless a majority of the electors present and voting at such Town meeting or voting at such referendum shall have approved thereof; provided however, that the Council may, as permitted by State law, authorize borrowing in anticipation of taxes or of Federal or State grants, subject to any limit for such borrowing set by a regular or special Town meeting.

 

C. Provide for an independent annual audit by a certified public accountant of all Town accounts, such audit to conform with the requirements of State law for such annual audits, with generally accepted auditing standards, and shall require the inclusion by the auditors of their informed opinion of the financial practices and accounts of the Town. Such annual audit shall be completed and filed with the Town Council no later than six (6) months after the close of the fiscal year, and a copy be filed with the Director of Administration and with the Auditor General of the State. The Council may provide for such additional audits as it may deem appropriate and for which the Town meeting may have made appropriation.

 

D. Serve as licensing authority of the Town and as such to exercise all authority conferred upon towns, or which may be exercised by towns, under State law, to issue licenses and permits for the conduct of businesses or professions, or for all other purposes as authorized by law, and to make necessary rules and regulations pertaining thereto.

 

E. Ensure compliance with the Charter by all Town officials, departments and agencies and to establish a process for review of complaints of non-compliance from qualified electors of the Town.

 

ARTICLE V Financial Procedures

 

Section 501. Fiscal Year.

 

The fiscal year of the Town shall begin on the first day of July and end on the last day of the following June, provided however, that the Financial Town Meeting, upon recommendation of the Town Council, may change the dates of the fiscal year.

 

Section 502. Budget Committee.

 

A. There shall be a Budget Committee of five (5) members, elected at the Financial Town meeting for two (2) year terms. However, their terms shall be staggered, such that two (2) members shall be elected in each even numbered year and, three (3) members shall be elected in each odd numbered year. Members of the Town Council and members of the School Committee shall be ineligible to serve as members of the Budget Committee. When elected and qualified the members of the Committee shall elect one of their number as chairman and another as clerk.

 

B. The Budget Committee shall have primary responsibility for the evaluation of all requests for appropriation by the Financial Town Meeting or by any special Town Meeting, and for presenting a proposed budget to the Annual Financial Town Meeting. The Committee shall have the authority to recommend the increase, decrease or elimination of any request for appropriation or line item therein, including those requests contained in citizen petitions pursuant to Section 306 above, provided however, that all requests shall be placed in the Budget Committee Report with indication of the Committee's recommendation. Regarding the request for appropriation from the School Committee, the Budget Committee shall have the authority to recommend increase or decrease of the total request only. The Budget Committee shall also have the authority to:

 

1. demand, subject to state and federal laws concerning privacy and access to public records, any and all books, records, and correspondence relative to the expenditure of town monies in the custody of any department of the town which in its opinion are necessary to properly prepare a budget for the expenditure of town funds;

 

2. recommend changes in compensation for any elected officials of the Town to that official by February 1st;

 

3. prepare a capital expenditure program for the Town, pursuant to the provisions of Section 505 of the Charter. (Reso. 7/20/00; approved at election 11/7/00; Reso. 7/11/02; approved at election 11/5/02; Reso. 7/6/06; approved at election 11/7/06)

 

Section 503. Preparation of the Budget.

 

All budget requests from Town officials, departments and agencies shall be submitted to the Budget Committee not later than March 1st through the Town Clerk, provided however, that all such requests from appointed Town officials, departments, boards, committees, and agencies under the jurisdiction of the Town Council shall first be submitted to the Town Council upon such date prior to March 1 as the Council shall determine. Each such request shall be accompanied by a breakdown of its proposed expenditures with appropriate supporting information and, if applicable, estimates of revenues during the fiscal year. The budget prepared by the Committee shall show its proposed appropriations for each official, department and agency by line item, and the total revenue that will be required to fund the budget. During its deliberations the Committee shall invite the sponsor of each request for appropriation to explain and justify such requests. At an appropriate point or points in the process the Budget Committee shall invite the Council to meet with it to consider the overall budget, revenue prospects, and such detailed questions as either body may care to raise. (Reso. 7/6/06; approved at election 11/7/06)

 

Section 504. Public Hearings on Budget.

 

The Budget Committee, with the Council in attendance, shall hold a public hearing on its preliminary recommended budget prior to final adoption for presentation to the Financial Town Meeting, which hearing shall take place no more than twenty (20) nor less than fourteen (14) days prior to the date for said meeting. At least ten (10) days prior to the date for the Financial Town Meeting the Council shall cause to be published in a newspaper of general circulation in the Town a summary of the proposed budget as adopted for presentation to the Financial Town Meeting, as prescribed in the State Property Tax and Fiscal Disclosure Law. The Council shall insure that all other provisions of said Law, and the provisions of State law pertaining to the maximum tax which towns may levy, as the said laws may be amended from time to time, are complied with. Copies of the Budget Committee report as it is to be presented to the Financial Town Meeting shall be mailed to the electors of the Town no later than ten (10) days prior to the date of said meeting. (Approved at election 11/2/04)

 

Section 505. Capital Program.

 

The Council shall provide by ordinance for the orderly review and preparation by the Budget Committee of a multi-year program for capital expenditure by the Town. Such ordinance shall provide for projections and planning by Town departments, offices, boards, commissions and other agencies, and adoption by the Council after public hearing.

 

Section 506. Purchases and Accounting Control.

 

The Council shall appoint a purchasing agent for the Town, and may do so by designating a present Town official to assume this additional responsibility. The Council shall also provide by ordinance policies and procedures to govern the making of purchases by and on behalf of the Town, in conformity with Title 45, Chapter 55 of the General Laws relating to the award of municipal contracts, and other applicable provisions of State law. Such policies and procedures shall be designed to insure that Town funds are expended in the most efficient and economical manner possible, and to provide maximum value per dollar expended in all purchases of goods and services.

 

A. The purchasing procedures shall require that all purchases and contracts executed on behalf of the Town in excess of one thousand dollars ($1,000) be made pursuant to a written requisition from the head of the office, department or agency whose appropriation will be charged and no contract or order shall be issued until the Treasurer shall have certified that there is sufficient appropriation balance as of last posting to the credit of such office, department or agency to pay for the supplies, material, equipment or contractual services for which the contract or order is to be issued. The Council shall not authorize final payment in any such instance until it is satisfied that proper procedures have been followed and payment is in order.

 

B. All applicable requirements of State law, specifically Title 45, Chapter 55 shall be observed by the Town and shall be incorporated into its formal purchasing procedures, provided however, that all purchases for a single item or order in an amount exceeding five thousand dollars ($5,000), or for a single construction project to cost an amount exceeding five thousand dollars ($5,000), shall be made or the contract let through the sealed bid process or one of the alternative procedures provided in the chapter cited above. Purchases in amounts of less than five thousand dollars ($5,000) may be made pursuant to such small purchases regulations as the Council shall adopt.

 

C. Any contract, verbal or written, made in violation of any provision of this Charter or of any regulation made under the authority thereof, or of applicable State law, shall be null and void.

 

Section 507. Budget Administration; Lapse of Appropriations.

 

Every appropriation, except those for capital expenditure, or those authorized from specially dedicated funds, shall lapse at the close of a fiscal year and any unexpended or unencumbered balance revert to the general fund. An appropriation for a capital expenditure shall continue in force until the purpose for which it was made has been accomplished or abandoned.

 

Section 508. Emergency Appropriations.

 

To meet a public emergency as defined in Section 411 A. above, the Council may make emergency appropriations using the emergency ordinance procedure set forth in Section 411. To the extent that there are not available unappropriated revenues to meet such appropriations, the Council may by emergency ordinance authorize the issuance of emergency notes, which may be renewed from time to time, but shall be liquidated not later than the end of the fiscal year next succeeding that in which the emergency appropriation was made.

 

Section 509. Fees Paid to the Town.

 

All fees received by any office or employee of the Town shall belong to the Town and shall be recorded, receipted for and conveyed at such intervals as the Council may require to the Town Treasurer for deposit in the general fund or in such specifically designated funds as may have been established by the Financial Town Meeting, except as otherwise provided in this Charter.

 

Section 510. Budget Adjustments.

 

Upon the request of any department head, office, commission or other unit of Town government, other than a unit not under the jurisdiction of the Town Council, the Town Council may, during the last quarter, move no more than ten (10) percent of any line item to another line item within said departmentís budget to cover a shortage of funds. Any such transfers will be reported in the yearly reports of both the Town Treasurer and Town Auditor. (Reso. 7/20/00; approved at election 11/7/00)

 

Section 511. Council Discretionary Fund.

 

There shall be included by the Budget Committee in the budget to be proposed to the Financial Town Meeting a line item to provide a discretionary fund to be used by the Council to meet unanticipated expenses for which there is no provision or insufficient provision in the budget as adopted, or to meet emergency needs for expenditure which might arise during the fiscal year. (Reso. 7/20/00; approved at election 11/7/00)

 

Section 512. Reserve Fund.

 

There shall be established by the Financial Town Meeting a fund to be designated the Reserve Fund into which there may be transferred from time to time by vote of the Town meeting the whole or any portion of the surplus funds which the Town may have at the end of any fiscal year, or to which direct appropriations may be made. The purpose of the Reserve Fund shall be to make moneys available for temporary borrowings in anticipation of taxes, or to meet a budget shortfall caused by emergency or unforeseen circumstances, or for capital expenditures, but for no other purpose. The Council may authorize borrowing from the Reserve Fund in anticipation of taxes or to cover a departmental shortfall within such limits as the Financial Town Meeting shall have set, provided however, that such borrowings shall be repaid to the Fund at the latest by appropriation at the next Financial Town Meeting. Moneys from the Reserve Fund may be used for capital expenditures only with the specific authorization of the Financial Town Meeting. The Town Treasurer shall have the authority, with the approval of the Council, to make such prudent investments of the moneys in the Fund as may seem appropriate. (Reso. 7/20/00; approved at election 11/7/00)

 

ARTICLE VI Town Officials

 

Section 601. Town Business Manager.

 

The Council may appoint a Business Manager for the Town to serve during the Council's pleasure, to assist it in the discharge of its executive and administrative responsibilities. Such appointment shall be made from among persons with appropriate academic training in management and administration and/or at least five (5) years management experience preferably in part in local or State government. Expert knowledge and/or experience in one or more of the following required: personnel administration, labor negotiation, budgeting, financial administration, accounting, land use planning, public works or municipal law.

 

A. The Council shall by ordinance define the responsibilities of the office of Business Manager, his or her relationship to the officials, departments, boards and commissions which compose the Town government, whether the Business Manager shall devote part time or full time to the duties of the office, and other terms of employment.

 

B. Compensation and benefits for the Business Manager shall be as set by the Financial Town Meeting.

 

Section 602. Town Clerk.

 

There shall be a Town Clerk who shall be elected at the general election each even numbered year to serve for a two (2) year term or until his or her successor is elected and qualified. The Town Clerk shall have all the duties and responsibilities of Town Clerks as provided by State law, shall be Clerk of the Council, of the Board of Canvassers, and of the Probate Court, and shall perform such other duties and responsibilities not in conflict with State law. The Town Clerk shall have the authority to employ a Deputy Town Clerk with the approval of the Council, and such Deputy Town Clerk shall in the absence or inability of the Town Clerk, discharge all of the duties and responsibilities of that office. The Town Clerk shall be responsible for the good conduct of the Deputy, and may revoke the appointment at the Clerk's discretion. In the event that the Town Clerk and the Deputy Town Clerk are both unable to complete the term of office, the Council shall appoint an interim Clerk to fill the balance of the term of office. (Reso. 7/11/02; approved at election 11/5/02)

 

Section 603. Town Treasurer/Tax Collector.

 

There shall be a Town Treasurer who shall also hold and exercise the office of Town Tax Collector, who shall be elected at the general election each even numbered year to serve for a two (2) year term or until his or her successor is elected and qualified. The Town Treasurer shall have all of the duties and responsibilities conferred upon Town Treasurers by State law, and all of the duties and responsibilities conferred upon Town Tax Collectors by State law, and shall give bond for each or both offices before assuming his or her duties, as provided in State law. The Town Treasurer may appoint a Deputy Town Treasurer with the approval of the Council, and any such Deputy Treasurer shall, in the absence or inability of the Town Treasurer, have all the powers and responsibilities of the Town Treasurer and of the Tax Collector, provided however, that in no case shall the Deputy have the power to sign the bonds, notes, or other evidences of indebtedness of the Town except with the approval of the Council. The Deputy Treasurer shall also be bonded by the Town. The Town Treasurer shall be responsible for any misconduct, neglect, or default of the Deputy, and may revoke the appointment at his or her discretion. In the event that the Treasurer/Tax Collector and the Deputy Treasurer are both unable to complete the term of office, the Council shall appoint an Interim Treasurer to fill the balance of the term of office. (Reso. 7/11/02; approved at election 11/5/02)

 

Section 604. Town Solicitor.

 

There shall be a Town Solicitor appointed by the Council within thirty (30) days following its election, to serve for a term of two (2) years or until his or her successor is appointed. The Solicitor shall be appointed from among persons admitted to the bar in Rhode Island who have had significant experience in the various aspects of municipal law, and who has practiced before the various Courts of the State. The Solicitor need not devote full time to his or her office. The Council in its discretion may retain the services of a law firm to provide the legal services of Town Solicitor and may retain or authorize the retention of special counsel for the Town or for a board or commission, department or officer for extra or unusual services. The Town Solicitor shall be the legal advisor of, and attorney and counsel for, the Town and for all boards, commissions, departments and officers thereof.

 

Section 605. Tax Assessors.

 

There shall be a Board of Tax Assessors of three (3) members elected for six (6) year staggered terms, with the term of one member expiring and the election of one member at the general election in each even numbered year. The Board of Tax Assessors shall have and perform all of the duties and discharge the responsibilities of Tax Assessors as set forth in State law. The Town Council shall serve as the Board of Tax Assessment Review unless and until provision is made for the performance of those duties by another body.

 

Section 606. Tax Assessment Board of Review.

 

Upon the appointment of a single Tax Assessor there shall be a Tax Assessment Board of Review consisting of three (3) members, appointed by the Town Council, each to serve for a term of six (6) years with terms staggered such that the office of one (1) board member shall become vacant every two (2) years. When this provision takes effect, the former Board of Assessors then in office shall relinquish their duties to the Tax Assessor appointed and shall serve thereafter as the Tax Assessment Board of Review. As the term of each of the former assessors expires, a member of the Tax Assessment Board of Review as heretofore provided for, shall be appointed. The procedure for filing of requests for review of tax assessments, for the review process to be conducted by the Tax Assessment Board of Review, and the authority for the making of any adjustment in an assessment for which the Board finds an adjustment appropriate, and other matters pertaining to the duties of the Board, shall be determined by ordinance. Appeals resulting from decisions of the Tax Assessment Board of Review may be taken as provided by State law. (Reso. 7/11/02; approved at election 11/5/02)

 

Section 607. Town Sergeant.

 

There shall be a Town Sergeant, who shall be appointed by the Town Council in each even numbered year to serve for a two (2) year term, or until his or her successor is appointed. The Town Sergeant shall have such powers and duties as are prescribed by State law and such compensation as may be fixed by the Town Meeting. (Reso. 7/11/02; approved at election 11/5/02)

 

Section 608. Inspections and Inspectors.

 

The Town Council shall make provision for the conduct of all inspections which are required, or shall in the future be required of towns to make, including but not limited to zoning inspections, building, electrical, plumbing and related inspections, minimum housing inspections, and the like, and shall appoint a person or persons to conduct such inspections who are qualified by training, experience and/or license where applicable, in the various professions and specialties involved. Where appropriate the same individual may be appointed with responsibilities of conducting two or more types of inspections. (Reso. 7/11/02; approved at election 11/5/02)

 

Section 609. Probate Judge and Probate Court.

 

There shall be a Probate Court for the Town with the powers and responsibilities prescribed by State law, and the Town Council shall appoint a judge for said Court from among attorneys who have been admitted to the bar in Rhode Island, and who shall have had at least five (5) years experience in active practice of law in the courts of this State, to serve for a term of two (2) years commencing on the first of July and ending June 30th of the second year following, or until a successor is appointed and qualified. The Council may make provision for a deputy or alternate to serve as judge in the absence or inability of the Probate Judge. (Reso. 7/11/02; approved at election 11/5/02)

 

Section 610. Local Director of Emergency Management.

 

There shall be a Local Emergency Management Agency in the Town headed by a Local Emergency Management Director, who shall be appointed by the Council and may be the Council President. The Little Compton Agency shall have powers and responsibilities similar to those of the State agency of the same name, as set forth in State law. (Reso. 7/11/02; approved at election 11/5/02)

 

Section 611. Director of Social Services.

 

There shall be a Director of Social Services, who shall be appointed by the Town Council in each even numbered year to serve for a two (2) year term or until his or her successor is appointed. The Social Services Director shall have such duties and responsibilities as are assigned to the office by State law and such compensation as may be fixed by the Financial Town Meeting. (Reso. 7/20/00; approved at election 11/7/00; Reso. 7/11/02; approved at election 11/5/02)

 

ARTICLE VII Boards and Commissions

 

Section 701. Planning Board.

 

There shall be a Planning Board for the Town made up of nine (9) members appointed by the Town Council each to serve for a term of four (4) years or until his or her successor is appointed. All members shall be qualified electors of the Town. The terms of the members of the Board shall be so arranged that the terms of no more than one-third shall expire each year. The Council shall, during the months of January of each year, make appointments to fill prospective vacancies. The terms of members shall expire on the last day of January, and of newly appointed members shall begin on the first day of February. Vacancies on the Board shall be filled by the Council for the unexpired term.

 

A. The Board shall advise the Council on all matters concerning the growth and development of the Town and the effects thereof on the health, safety and welfare of the inhabitants. The Board shall have the duties and responsibilities provided by State law for such Boards, and in particular those conferred on Planning Boards under the Rhode Island Comprehensive Planning and Land Use Regulation Act and related legislation as amended from time to time.

 

B. The Board shall play such role in long range capital planning and the preparation of the Town capital budget as the Council may direct; shall submit recommendations on all matters referred to it relating to the Town zoning ordinance, land subdivision and proposals for development in the Town as requested by the Council; shall after consulting with the Town Council, convene meetings of selected Town officials, departments and agencies and community groups for the purpose of facilitating unified Town policies related to land use for recreation, conservation and open space; and shall conduct such studies and other activities related to its general area of responsibility as the Council may direct.

 

Section 702. Zoning Board of Review.

 

There shall be a Zoning Board of Review of five (5) members appointed by the Town Council each to hold office for a term of five (5) years with their terms so arranged that the term of one member shall expire and one appointment be made each year. The Council shall determine when appointments are to be made and the date upon which terms shall expire. The Board shall also include three (3) alternates to be designated as the first, second and third alternate members each to be appointed by the Council for a term of five (5) years in such manner that their terms shall not both expire in the same year. These alternate members shall sit and may actively participate in hearings. The first alternate shall vote if one member of the Board is unable to serve at a hearing, and the second shall vote if two members of the Board are unable to serve at a hearing and the third alternate shall vote if three members of the Board are unable to serve at a hearing. In the absence of any alternate member the next alternate shall serve in that position by rank, i.e. second taking place of first, etc. No member or alternate may vote on any matter before the Board unless they have attended all hearings concerning that matter. The Council shall fill vacancies on the Board for the unexpired term, and may remove members for due cause. The Board shall have all the powers and duties now or hereafter vested by law in Zoning Boards of Review. (Reso. 7/20/00; approved at election 11/7/00)

 

Section 703. Conservation Commission.

 

There shall be a Conservation Commission for the Town of seven (7) members appointed by the Town Council for three year terms, with said terms so arranged that the terms of two members shall expire in one year, the terms of two the second year, and three the third year. Duly incorporated and existing wildlife, conservation, sportsmen's, horticultural, or like organizations may present to the appointing authority a list of qualified citizens from which lists the appointing authority must select at least three Commission members, and may select the remainder from said lists. Terms of members shall end on the last day of January.

 

A. The purpose of the Commission shall be to promote and develop the natural resources, to protect the watershed resources, and to preserve the natural esthetic areas within the Town. To these ends the Commission shall conduct researches into its local land areas and seek to coordinate the activities of unofficial bodies organized for similar purposes, and shall keep an index of all open spaces within the Town, publicly or privately owned. It may recommend to the Council and other Town bodies a program for the better use of the Town's land and natural resources.

 

Section 704. Beach Commission.

 

There shall be a Beach Commission of five (5) members elected at the Financial Town Meeting for terms of four (4) years, with the terms so arranged that three shall expire and the election of three members shall take place in one year, and two shall expire and the election of two members shall take place two years thereafter.

 

A. The Commission shall have the authority to manage, regulate and control all public beaches owned by the Town. Any acquisition of beach property by the Town or sale or lease thereof, or any granting of an easement or right of way over any such property, shall, exclusive of acquisitions by the Little Compton Agricultural Conservancy Trust as hereinafter set forth, require consultation with the Beach Commission and approval by the Town Meeting. The Town Council shall have the power to enact such ordinances as the Commission shall request or as the Council may deem necessary for the policing of said public beaches, in aid of the management, maintenance and improvement of the same, and for the regulation of all travel by the public to, from and over such beaches, and to prescribe penalties for violation of such ordinances.

 

B. The Commission shall have the authority to make suitable provisions for the care, management, maintenance, protection and improvement of the beaches under its control, and for the safety of the persons using them, and to cause to be erected, repaired or replaced such bathhouses, fences and other buildings and structures as it may deem necessary for the convenience and well-being of the public or as may be required by State law or regulations.

 

C. The Commission shall have the authority to charge reasonable fees for admission, parking of vehicles, and the use of facilities for defraying the costs of maintenance and operation, provided however, that it may exempt residents of the Town from such fees. All moneys received from such fees shall be deposited in the General Fund by the Town Treasurer, and shall be appropriated therefrom to the Commission at the discretion of the Financial Town Meeting, and expended by and under the direction of the Commission. The accounts of the Commission shall be audited at the time of the annual audit of Town accounts.

 

Section 705. Agricultural Conservancy Trust.

 

There is established pursuant to Chapter 16 of the Public Laws of 1985 The Little Compton Agricultural Conservancy Trust for the purpose of acquiring development rights to agricultural property within the Town, the acquisition of agricultural property or interest therein, to preserve open spaces, fresh and saltwater marshes, estuaries and adjoining uplands, groundwater recharging areas, land providing access to the ocean, land for bicycle paths and land for future public recreational facilities and use.

 

A. The Trust shall be administered by seven (7) trustees, five (5) of whom shall be appointed by the Town Council with at least one being an active farmer, to serve for five (5) year staggered terms, with their terms so arranged that one shall expire, and one appointment be made each year. Vacancies among the trustees shall be filled by the Council for the unexpired term. The sixth and seventh Trustees shall be the current chairpersons of the Town Conservation Commission and Planning Board or their member designees.

 

B. The powers, responsibilities and procedures to be exercised and implemented by the Trust are as the same as set forth in Chapter 16 of the Public laws cited above. (Reso. 7/20/00; approved at election 11/7/00)

 

Section 706. Pension Committee.

 

There shall be a Pension Committee whose responsibility it shall be to administer the pension plan for Town officials and employees as the same is authorized by Chapter 84 of the Public Laws of 1971 and as it may be amended, and subject to such ordinances and/or votes of the Town Meeting as may have been or may be enacted setting forth the provisions and operation of the pension plan. The Committee shall be made up of three members appointed by the Town Council and one Council Member designated by the Council, each to serve for a term of one year, and one member chosen by each of the following: the union representing Town policemen, the union representing Town firefighters, and the other Town employees, to serve at the pleasure of the appointing organization, for a total of seven (7) members.

 

Section 707. Harbor Commission.

 

There shall be a Harbor Commission consisting of seven (7) members appointed by the Town Council for three (3) year staggered terms with their terms so arranged that the terms of two members will expire in one year, the terms of two more members in the next year, and the terms of three members in the third year. The appointees shall be selected by the Council so that one is the owner of a recreational boat kept on a mooring, or one who is on a waiting list for a mooring; one representative of the Sakonnet Point Marina Association, Inc.; one represents the Sakonnet Yacht Club; one is a commercial trip fisherman; one is a commercial day fisherman; one officer of the local fishermen's association; and one is a member of a Town conservation organization. Vacancies shall be filled in accordance with the initial appointment to the vacant position for the unexpired term. It shall be the responsibility of the Commission to make recommendations to the Council concerning the appointment of the Harbor Master and Assistant Harbor Master(s), the rules and regulations regarding the assignment and use of moorings, the use of Town docks and facilities, other rules and regulations governing the use of the harbor including but not limited to the setting of fees and penalties, the preparation and revision of the harbor plan, and such other functions as may be assigned to it by the Council. (Reso. 7/11/02; approved at election 11/5/02)

 

Section 708. Little Compton Free Public Library.

 

The Little Compton Free Public Library shall be governed by a Board consisting of five (5) Trustees appointed by the Town Council for terms of three (3) years, with their terms so arranged that the terms of no more than two Trustees shall expire in any one year. All terms shall expire on October 15th; the Council shall fill any vacancy for the unexpired term.

 

Section 709. Auditorium-Gymnasium Committee.

 

There shall be an Auditorium-Gymnasium Committee of three (3) members appointed by the Council each to serve a three year term, with their terms so arranged that the term of one member shall expire, and one new appointment shall be made each year. The Commission shall have responsibility for the scheduling and the conduct of appropriate activities in the Auditorium-Gymnasium of the School during the periods of time when the facility is not being used for school purposes.

 

Section 710. Recreation, Conservation and Open Space Committee.

 

There shall be a Recreation, Conservation and Open Space Committee of nine (9) members three (3) of whom shall be appointed by the Town Council for staggered three (3) year terms, with the terms so arranged that one expires each year. The Committee shall also include ex officio the chairperson of each of the following Town bodies or his or her member designee: Planning Board, Conservation Commission, Agricultural Conservancy Trust, Beach Commission, Sakonnet Preservation Association, and School Committee. It shall be the responsibility of the Committee to update, maintain and implement the Town's plan for the interrelated development of recreation areas and facilities, land conservation and the preservation of open space in the Town, and to review at least annually the Recreation, Conservation and Open Space Plan of the Town and recommend such changes as it feels appropriate in writing to the Council. (Reso. 7/20/00; approved at election 11/7/00)

 

Section 711. Little Compton Housing Trust.

 

There shall be a Little Compton Housing Trust, authorized by ordinance of the Town Council and organized as a non-profit corporation, the purpose of which is to serve as an advocacy group for any person or group desiring to address the problem of housing affordability or housing for the elderly, those with special needs and families of low and moderate income. It shall oversee the implementation of the Affordable Housing Plan of the community. The Little Compton Housing Trust shall be subject to the provisions of Section 103 of the Charter. (Reso. 7/6/06; approved at election 11/7/06)

 

ARTICLE VIII School Department

 

Section 801. School Committee.

 

The School Department of the Town shall be under the jurisdiction and control of a School Committee of five (5) members elected at large at the general election each even numbered year, to serve for four (4) year staggered terms or until their respective successors are elected and qualified, said terms to be so arranged that two members of the Committee shall be elected at one general election and three members at the next general election.

 

Section 802. Qualifications.

 

School Committee members shall hold no other paid employment in the School Department of the Town and shall be qualified electors and residents of the Town. If a Committee member shall cease to possess any of these qualifications or shall be disqualified from continuing in office under provisions of the State Constitution or State law, his or her office shall be deemed to have become vacant.

 

Section 803. Vacancies.

 

Any vacancy in the membership of the School Committee shall be filled by the unelected candidate with the highest number of votes from the most recent election for the position of School Committee, or, if that person is unavailable or unwilling to serve, shall be filled by the Town Council for the remainder of the vacated term. (Reso. 7/6/06; approved at election 11/7/06)

 

Section 804. Organization, Rules, Compensation.

 

The School Committee shall determine its own organization, rules of procedure and the time of its meetings. It may provide for the compensation of its members from time to time as it may deem appropriate, provided that any change in said compensation must be approved no less than six months prior to the next general election.

 

Section 805. Powers and Duties.

 

The School Committee shall have responsibility for the general care and management of the school(s) of the Town, the selection of the superintendent, and shall have all other responsibilities, powers and duties as are currently provided by State law, or as may be provided for School Committees in the future. In particular it shall be the duty of the Committee to make such provision as it may deem appropriate for the high school education of the children of the Town by entering into a contractual arrangement for that purpose with the School Committee of a neighboring Town or by such other means or combination of means as it sees fit. The Committee shall prepare and submit its budget requests to the Budget Committee in accordance with the provisions of Section 503 and other applicable provisions of this Charter.

 

Section 806. Buildings and Grounds, Purchasing.

 

In consultation with and subject to the agreement of the Town Council, the School Committee may contract with the Town Department of Public Works for that Department to assume responsibility for the maintenance of all school property, provided that the costs of such maintenance and care are charged against the appropriation for the public schools; and the Committee may in the same manner arrange to have the Town Purchasing Agent assume responsibility for purchases of supplies and equipment for the School Department.

 

ARTICLE IX Other Town Departments

 

Section 901. Police Department.

 

There shall be a Police Department, the head of which shall be the Chief of Police, who shall be appointed by the Town Council from among persons with at least three (3) years experience above the rank of patrolman in any organized police department. The appointee shall be given a contract for no less than three (3) nor more than five (5) years which shall be renewable, and shall contain the proviso that the Chief may be dismissed by the Council during any such contract period following notice and the granting of a public hearing if requested. The Chief of Police shall be the chief administrative officer of the Department and the final departmental authority in all matters of policy, operations, and discipline, subject to applicable provisions of State law. He or she shall exercise all lawful powers of the office and issue such lawful orders as are necessary to assure the effective performance of the Department and shall be responsible for the care and custody of all property used by the Department.

 

A. There shall be such other subordinate officers, patrolmen, special police officers and employees as shall be determined from time to time, and such organization of the Department into divisions or offices or grades, as the Council determines upon recommendation of the Chief of Police.

 

B. The Police Department shall be responsible for the preservation of the public peace, prevention of crime, protection of the rights of persons and property, regulation of traffic, and the enforcement of the laws of the State and the ordinances of the Town.

 

Section 902. Fire Department.

 

There shall be a Fire Department, the head of which shall be the Fire Chief, who shall be appointed by the Town Council from among persons with at least three (3) years experience above the rank of firefighter in any organized fire department. The appointee shall be given a contract for no less than three (3) nor more than five (5) years which shall be renewable, and shall contain the proviso that the Chief may be dismissed by the Council during any such contract period following notice and the granting of a public hearing if requested. The Fire Chief shall, subject to the approval of the Town Council, make rules and regulations concerning the operation of the Department and the conduct of all members thereof. There shall be such other subordinate officers as the Council may provide with the advice of the Chief, and such firefighters, full time and part time, as the Council shall appoint. The Chief shall assign all subordinates to their respective posts, shifts, details, duties, and shall be responsible for their efficiency, discipline, and good conduct, and for the care and custody of all property used by the Department. The Chief shall perform such duties as may be required by law and ordinance and shall have control and management of the Department at fires and all other emergencies.

 

A. The Town Council shall make such provision for ambulance/rescue service for the Town as it may deem most appropriate, such service to be under the supervision of the Chief of the Fire Department.

 

Section 903. Director of Public Works.

 

There shall be a Director of Public Works, who shall be appointed by the Council from among persons with administrative or management experience. The Director may be appointed to serve full time or part time as the Council shall determine, and may hold another position in the service of the Town, provided however, that he or she shall not receive more than one salary. The Director shall be responsible for the functions and services of the Town relating to highways and snow removal, the trimming of brush along streets and roads and on Town property, and such other responsibilities as shall be assigned to the Director by the Council by ordinance.

 

A. The Director of Public Works shall hold the office and perform the duties of the Highway Supervisor of the Town. There shall be a Tree Warden for the Town appointed by the Council who shall perform the duties incumbent upon Tree Wardens under the general supervision of the Director of Public Works.

 

ARTICLE X General Provisions

 

Section 1001. Open Records.

 

The public shall be entitled to access to all records and proceedings of all agencies of the Town government of Little Compton, including but not limited to those of the Town Council, all boards and commissions, departments and offices, as the same are defined and set forth in State law pertaining to open records. The types of records to which the public is entitled to access, and the times, places and conditions under which such access shall be made available shall be as provided in said Title 38, Chapter 2 of the General Laws as the same may be amended from time to time.

 

Section 1002. Open Meetings.

 

The public has a right to have the public business performed in an open and public manner and to be advised of and aware of the performance of public officials and the deliberations and decisions that go into the making of public policy. To these ends the Town Council, the School Committee and all Town departments, agencies, commissions, committees, boards and councils, and all subdivisions thereof, shall conduct all business in accordance with the provisions of the open meetings legislation of the State, Title 42, Chapter 46 of the General Laws, and as the same may be amended from time to time. Pursuant to said legislation the public shall have the right to attend all meetings of such Town public bodies, subject only to the limitations specifically allowed by law.

 

Section 1003. Ethics.

 

All public officials and employees of the Town of Little Compton must adhere to the highest standards of ethical conduct, respect the public trust and the rights of all persons, be open, accountable, and responsive, avoid the appearance of impropriety, and not use their position for private gain or advantage. Accordingly all elected and appointed officials of the Town, and all Town employees, shall be subject to and comply with the Code of Ethics legislation of the State as set forth in Title 36, Chapter 14 of the General Laws, and all rules, regulations and opinions promulgated by the Rhode Island Ethics Commission from time to time.

 

Section 1004. Amendments of Charter.

 

The Town Council may propose amendments to this Charter at any time, to be put to referendum of the electors of the Town at a general or special election pursuant to the provisions in Article XIII of the Constitution of the State. Any such amendment or amendments in full text shall be published by the Town Clerk no less than thirty (30) days prior to the date of the referendum, and the Council shall schedule a public hearing thereon no less than ten (10) days prior such date. Notice of any such hearing or hearings shall be given no less than one week prior to the date they are scheduled to be held.

 

A. The Council shall appoint a Charter Review Commission of seven (7) members, during the month of January in the year 2001, and every four (4) years thereafter, whose members shall serve for a term of two (2) years, and whose duty it shall be to review the Charter and recommend to the Council any amendments or revisions which it feels the Council should consider for presentation to the electors of the Town. Any vacancy occurring on the Commission shall be filled immediately by the Town Council. Subject to Sections 502 and 503 of the Home Rule Charter the Charter Review Commission shall be provided an appropriation for its expenses as shall be fixed by the Financial Town Meeting. (Reso. 7/20/00; approved at election 11/7/00)

 

Section 1005. Charter Construction and Severability

 

The powers of the Town under this Charter shall be construed liberally in favor of the Town. If any article, section or provision of this Charter shall be held invalid by a court of competent jurisdiction, the remainder thereof shall not be affected thereby.

 

Section 1006. Appointments, Qualifications and Vacancies.

 

All appointments to Town boards and commissions shall be made from among persons who are electors and residents of the Town, and all such appointees shall remain electors and residents throughout their terms of service in the positions to which they were appointed. Appointments to Town offices may be made from among persons who are not at the time electors and residents of the Town, but any person so appointed while a non-resident shall within a reasonable time following appointment become an elector and resident of the Town, provided however, that the Council by an affirmative vote of four (4) of its members may grant an exception to this residence requirement to a particular appointee on the ground that no appropriately qualified Town resident could be found for such appointment, and the residence requirement would work a special hardship on the person appointed. Any vacancy on a board or commission shall be filled by the Council for the balance of the unexpired term.

 

Section 1007. Suspension and Disqualification from Office.

 

A. Any person holding elective or appointive office in the Town, or member of any Town board or commission, who is indicted for any offense which is a felony under Federal or State law, while holding any such office, shall be deemed to have been suspended from his or her office and shall cease to exercise the powers or perform the duties thereof, until completion of all legal procedures resulting from that indictment. No suspension from office under the provisions of this Section shall be deemed to have created a vacancy in such office. In the event that one or more suspensions makes it impossible for the duties of an office to be carried on, or deprives the School Committee or any Town board or commission of a quorum to transact business, the Council shall make temporary appointment(s) for the conduct of the office or the restoration of a quorum for the period of the suspension. In the event that the suspension of Council members deprives the Council of a quorum, the Town Clerk shall forthwith schedule a special election to fill the positions of the suspended Council members with interim Council members, who shall serve until the suspensions end or the terms of the suspended members shall have expired.

 

B. Any elector shall be disqualified as a candidate for elective or appointive office in the Town, or from holding such office, if such elector has been convicted of or plead nolo contendere to a felony or if such elector has been convicted of or plead nolo contendere to a misdemeanor resulting in a jail sentence of six months or more, either suspended or to be served. Such elector shall not, once so convicted, attain or return to any office until three years after the date of completion of such sentence and of probation or parole.

 

Section 1008. Meaning of Publication.

 

When in this Charter the Town Clerk or other official is required to publish the text of a proposal, document or public notice, publication shall mean to cause the same to be printed in a newspaper of general circulation in the Town, to post it in the Clerk's office and in two other prominent places in the Town, and to have copies available for distribution to interested citizens.

 

ARTICLE Xl Transitional Provisions

 

Section 1101. Effective Date of Charter.

 

This Charter shall take effect on the first Monday in January, 1995, if the Board of Canvassers shall have certified that it was approved by the electors of the Town voting thereon, or upon the date of such certification if the same shall be made later than the first Monday in January, 1995.

 

Section 1102. Transitional Elections and Appointment.

 

This Charter shall be placed before the electors of the Town of Little Compton at the general election to be held on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November, 1994, for their approval or rejection. At said election, all Town offices which had been filled by vote of the electors of the Town heretofore, shall be filled in the same manner as previously, and all persons so elected shall serve the terms set for their offices regardless of whether or not this Charter is approved. In the event of such approval, those so elected whose offices have been made appointive under this Charter, shall upon completion of their terms, have their offices filled by appointment as provided herein.

 

A. Offices heretofore filled by Council appointment shall continue to be so appointed as provided in this Charter. Offices previously filled at the general election or by election at the Financial Town Meeting, and which under the terms of this Charter are to be filled by Council appointment, shall be so appointed upon the expiration of the terms they were serving as of the general election of November 1994 or the terms to which they were elected at said general election, as the case may be.

 

B. Offices currently filled by election at the Financial Town Meeting which are to be filled by ballot under the provisions of Section 204 of this Charter shall be filled as follows: The five members of the Budget Committee elected at the Financial Town Meeting held in May 1995 shall hold their offices for terms of two (2) years or until their successors are elected at the Financial Town Meeting in May 1997. Thereafter the Budget Committee shall be elected at the Financial Town Meeting in each odd numbered year for terms of two years. The membership of the Beach Commission, under the terms of this Charter shall be reduced from six to five, each elected for a term of four (4) years, with their terms so arranged that the terms of two members shall expire in one odd numbered year, and the terms of three members shall expire the next odd numbered year. The offices of the two Commission members whose terms expire in 1995 shall be filled for terms of four years which shall expire in 1999; only one of the offices of the two Commission members whose terms expire in 1996 shall be filled, for a term of three years which shall expire in 1999; and the offices of the two Commission members whose terms expire in 1997 shall be filled for terms of four years which shall expire in 2001. All subsequent elections to the Commission shall be held at the Financial Town Meetings in odd numbered years for terms of four years.

 

Section 1103. Transfer of Appropriations.

 

In the event that it proves necessary to make any changes or transfers of funds appropriated in the budget for the fiscal year during which this Charter takes effect, to facilitate the operation of the Town government under the provisions of the Charter, the Council shall have the power to make such changes or transfers.

 

Section 1104. Continuation of Laws and Ordinances.

 

As of the effective date of this Charter, all special acts of the General Assembly applicable to the Town of Little Compton shall continue in effect except insofar as they are inconsistent with the provisions of this Charter or any ordinance of the Town enacted pursuant to the powers conferred by this Charter. All ordinances, resolutions, rules and regulations of the Town in force as of the effect*e date of this Charter and not inconsistent herewith, shall continue in force until amended or repealed.

 

Section 1105. Continuation of Obligations.

 

All taxes levied or assessed by the Town prior to the effective date of this Charter which have not been collected by the Town shall be collected with any interest or penalties thereon by the Town acting under this Charter in accordance with law. All licenses and permits issued by the Town, or any agency thereof, prior to the effective date of this Charter, shall continue in full force and effect until the termination date thereof, unless superseded or revoked for cause. All contracts, leases, franchises and other obligations, entered into by the Town, or for its benefit, prior to the effective date of this Charter, shall continue in full force and effect.

 

Section 1106. Pending Actions and Proceedings.

 

No actions or proceedings, civil or criminal, in law or in equity, pending at the time when this Charter shall take effect, brought by or against the Town, or any office, department, agency or officer thereof, shall be affected or abated by the adoption of this Charter or by anything contained in this Charter.

 

Section 1107. Continuation of Agencies.

 

All commissions, boards, departments, or offices, whether elective or appointed, shall continue in the performance of their powers, duties and functions as heretofore, subject to the provisions of this Charter.

 

Section 1108. Continuation of Present Personnel.

 

All persons employed in the service of the Town on the effective date of this Charter, shall continue in such employment until promoted, demoted or removed in accordance with the provisions of this Charter or ordinances enacted pursuant thereto.