Charter Commission session draws few comments

SYDNEY SCHAEFER/WATERTOWN DAILY TIMES

WATERTOWN — Former City Manager Mary M. Corriveau had some pointed questions on Wednesday night about the proposed City Charter changes.

Just one of a handful of residents who attended a public hearing on Wednesday night, Mrs. Corriveau told the Charter Commission she opposes residency requirements for department heads.

“It could be difficult” to fill those positions if job applicants must live in Watertown, she said.

Commission chairman Jeffrey M. Smith, who’s running for mayor, said commission members spent lots of time looking at that issue before putting in the proposed charter changes.

She also asked why the commission wants to change the job title of the fire chief to the director of the fire department.

Mr. Smith insisted that rumors were not true that the commission wants to eliminate the position or get rid of Fire Chief Dale C. Herman.

Both the fire and police departments would come under the auspices of a combined deputy city manager and public safety commissioner.

Maxwell I. French, president of the Watertown Civil Service Employees Association, Local 7151, was the only other speaker.

He told the commission that the union would be forced to take the city through a labor complaint if four positions, two IT specialists and two GIS coordinators, were taken out of the union and made confidential management positions.

As nonunion employees, they would work more and not be compensated for overtime, he said.

“This would actually harm those folks,” he said.

Commission members will review the comments from the hearing and might make changes in the proposed charter.

After meeting twice a month for 14 months, the city’s 10-member Charter Commission came back two weeks ago to recommend that the city should keep a city manager form of government.

Two other public hearings will be held at 7 p.m. July 18 at the Community Action Planning Council of Jefferson County, 518 Davidson St., and at 6 p.m. July 23 at the Italian American Civic Association, 192 Bellew Ave.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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