Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:
SECTION 1. The charter of the town of Norton is hereby amended by striking out section 1-3 and inserting in place thereof the following section:-
SECTION 1-3: POWERS OF THE TOWN
Subject only to express limitations on the exercise of any power or function by a municipality in the constitution of the commonwealth, it is the intent and the purpose of the voters of Norton to secure through the adoption of this charter all of the powers it is possible to secure for a municipal government under the constitution and laws of the commonwealth.
SECTION 2. Said charter is hereby further amended by striking out section 1-6 and inserting in place thereof the following section:-
SECTION 1-6: INTERGOVERNMENTAL RELATIONS
Subject to the applicable requirements of any provision of the constitution of the commonwealth, the town of Norton 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 states or civil divisions or agencies thereof or the United States government or any one or more agencies thereof.
SECTION 3. Section 1-7 of said charter is hereby amended by striking out subsection (b) and inserting in place thereof the following subsection:-
(b) Days - In computing any period of time prescribed or allowed by this charter the day of the act, event, or default after which the designated period of time begins to run shall not be included. The last day of the period shall be included, unless it is a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday in which event the period runs until the end of the next day that is not a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday. When the period of time is less than seven days, Saturdays, Sundays, and legal holidays shall not be counted. When the time is seven days or more, every day shall be counted.
SECTION 4. Said section 1-7 of said charter is hereby further amended by striking out subsections (f), (g) and (h) and inserting in place thereof the following three subsections:-
(f) Local Newspaper - The words "local newspaper" shall mean a daily or weekly newspaper with an audited circulation of at least 1,500 people in the town of Norton.
(g) Majority Vote - The words "majority vote" shall mean a vote requiring a majority of those members of a multiple member body present and voting, provided a quorum is present. Those abstaining or voting present will not be counted as voting, although they will be counted towards a quorum.
(h) Multiple Member Body - The words "multiple member body" shall mean any town agency consisting of two or more members, whether elected or appointed.
SECTION 5. Section 2-7 of said charter is hereby amended by striking out subsections (a) and (b) and inserting in place thereof the following two subsections:-
(a) Initiation - The board of selectmen shall receive at any time all petitions addressed to it which request the submission of any article to the town meeting. They must include on the next warrant any articles which are filed by any elected town officer, any multiple member body acting by a majority vote of its members and ten registered voters for an annual town meeting and any 100 registered voters for a special town meeting.
(b) Referral - Upon the closing of any town meeting warrant, the board of selectmen shall immediately cause a copy of the articles received to be forwarded to the finance committee and be posted on the town bulletin board, in addition to any other distribution required by general law or by-law.
SECTION 6. Said charter is hereby further amended by striking out section 2-8 and inserting in place thereof the following section:-
SECTION 2-8: AVAILABILITY OF TOWN OFFICIALS AT TOWN MEETINGS
All town officers, board or committee chairmen, and department and division heads, or a designee of any of these, shall attend all sessions of town meeting at which warrant articles pertinent to their agency may be acted upon. They will be prepared to provide the meeting with all pertinent information available regarding any warrant article which in any way involves or affects their agency or committee. If any official or designee is not a voter of the town, said person shall, notwithstanding, have the right to address the meeting for the purpose of compliance with this section.
SECTION 7. Section 3-1 of said charter is hereby amended by striking out subsection (c) and inserting in place thereof the following subsection:-
(c) Eligibility - Unless specifically prohibited by this charter or by by-law, any voter shall be eligible to hold any elective town office; provided, however, that no person shall simultaneously hold more than one elected office as defined in subsection (a) of this section.
SECTION 8. Said section 3-1 of said charter is hereby further amended by striking out subsection (f) and inserting in place thereof the following subsection:-
(f) Coordination - Notwithstanding their election by the voters, the town officers named in this section shall be required to meet with the board of selectmen or the town manager at the request of same, at any reasonable time, for consultation and discussion on any matter relating to their respective offices.
SECTION 9. Subsection (h) of said section 3-1 of said charter is hereby amended by striking out paragraphs (2) and (3) and inserting in place thereof the following two paragraphs:-
(2) Recall Petition - Any 100 voters may file with the town clerk an affidavit bearing the name of the officer sought to be recalled and a statement of the grounds for recall. These affidavits must be returned within 14 days of receiving original affidavits from the town clerk. The town clerk shall review the affidavit within three days. If the signatures on the affidavit are found to be sufficient, the town clerk shall immediately make available to the first ten voters making the affidavit copies of petition blanks demanding such recall, printed forms of which shall be kept available. When issued the blanks shall contain the signature and the official seal of the town clerk and may be completed by printing or typewriting. They shall be dated, addressed to the selectmen, and shall contain the names of the ten persons first named on the said affidavit, the name of the person for which the recall is sought and what office they currently hold, the grounds for recall as stated in the affidavit and shall demand the election of a successor in the said office. A copy of the petition shall be entered in a record book to be kept in the office of the town clerk. The recall petition shall be returned and filed with the town clerk within 30 days after the filing of the affidavit, or the next business day after the thirtieth day if said day falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday during which the town offices are closed. The recall petitions shall have been signed by at least 15 per cent of the total number of people registered to vote in Norton as of the date of the most recent town election, not more than 50 per cent of which shall be voters in any one precinct into which the town is divided. In signing such petitions voters shall add to their signatures the street and number, if any, of their residence.
The town clerk shall submit the petition to the registrar of voters in the town within 24 hours after receiving same. The registrars shall forthwith, but in no event in more than five days, certify thereon the number of signatures which are the names of voters. If the petition shall be found and certified by the registrars of voters to be sufficient they shall submit same with their certificate to the board of selectmen within 24 hours.
(3) Selectmen's Action on Receiving Petition - Upon receipt of a certified petition from the registrars of voters, the board of selectmen shall, within 24 hours of receipt of said petition, cause written notice of the receipt of the certificate to be delivered to the officer sought to be recalled, or to the principal dwelling or legal address of said officer. Should the board of selectmen fail to fulfill this obligation, the town clerk shall immediately notify the officer named on the petition in the same prescribed manner. If the officer does not resign, in writing, within five days thereafter, the board of selectmen shall order an election to be held on a date fixed by it not less than 64 days nor more than 75 days after the date of the deadline for the officers resignation; provided, however, that said date meets all requirements of state election laws; provided, further, that if any other town election is to occur within 90 days after the date of the certificate, the board of selectmen shall postpone the recall election to the date of such other election. If a vacancy occurs in said office after a recall election has been ordered, the election shall nevertheless proceed as provided in this section.
SECTION 10. Said charter is hereby further amended by striking out section 4-1 and inserting in place thereof the following section:-
SECTION 4-1: APPOINTMENT: QUALIFICATION: TERM
The board of selectmen shall appoint a town manager from a list prepared by a screening committee as defined in this article, section 4-6. The board of selectmen shall appoint the town manager to serve for an indefinite term and shall fix the compensation for such person annually, within the amount appropriated by the town. The town manager shall be appointed solely on the basis of demonstrated executive and administrative qualifications. The town manager shall be a person qualified by education, training and previous experience to perform the duties of the office. A town manger need not be a resident of the town or of the commonwealth at the time of appointment, nor at any time during the period of such service. The town manager shall not have served as a member of the board of selectmen in the town government for at least 12 months prior to appointment. The town may from time to time establish, by by-law, such additional qualifications as seem necessary and appropriate.
The town manager shall devote full time to the office and shall not hold any other public office, elective or appointive, nor be actively engaged in any other business or occupation during such service, unless the action is approved in advance and in writing by the board of selectmen. The board of selectmen shall provide for an annual review of the job performance of the town manager which shall, at least in summary form, be a public record.
SECTION 11. Section 4-2 of said charter is hereby amended by striking out subsection (n) and inserting in place thereof the following subsection:-
(n) To inquire, at any time, into the conduct of office or performance of duties of any officer or employee, department, board, commission or other town agency, whether appointed or elected.
SECTION 12. Section 4-4 of said charter is hereby amended by striking out subsection (c) and inserting in place thereof the following subsection:-
(c) Powers and Duties - The powers and duties of a temporary or acting town manager, under subsections (a) and (b), shall be limited to actions which, if delayed, would result in the inability of town government to function properly and efficiently. This shall include the authority to make temporary, emergency appointments or designations to town office or employment, but not to make permanent appointments or designations. It shall also include the authority to formulate and submit a budget in accordance with the rules and requirements of this charter, if necessary.
SECTION 13. Section 4-5 of said charter is hereby amended by striking out subsection (a) and inserting in place thereof the following subsection:-
(a) The board of selectmen shall adopt a preliminary resolution of removal by the affirmative vote of four of its members which must state the reason or reasons for removal. This preliminary resolution may suspend the town manager for a period not to exceed 45 days. A copy of the resolution shall be delivered to the town manager or to his principal place of dwelling or legal address within 24 hours from the time it is approved.
SECTION 14. Said charter is hereby further amended by inserting after section 4-5 the following section:-
SECTION 4-6: SCREENING COMMITTEE
Upon the resignation or removal of the town manager, the board of selectmen shall immediately call for the formation of a screening committee for the purpose of soliciting, receiving and evaluating applications for the position of town manager. Said screening committee shall require that all candidates have at least the qualifications required by by-law or in the job description for the position of town manager.
The screening committee shall consist of nine people who shall be chosen as follows: the board of selectmen, the school committee, the board of assessors, the planning board, and the finance committee shall each designate one person, and four people will be chosen by the town moderator. Three of the people appointed by the moderator must not hold any other appointed or elected town position. People appointed by the town agencies may, but need not be, members of the agency by which they are designated. Appointments made by the town moderator shall be last in time in order that in making the appointments the moderator may, insofar as it may be feasible to do so, appoint people who will broaden the membership base of the committee to be most representative of the demographic and occupational base of the town. No more than 30 days after the date such vacancy, or pending vacancy, becomes known the town clerk shall call and convene a meeting of the several persons who shall meet to organize and to plan a process to advertise the vacancy and to solicit by other means qualified candidates for the office. The committee shall proceed notwithstanding the failure of any town agency to designate its representatives.
The screening committee shall review all applications that are received by it, screen all such applicants it intends to advance by checking and verifying work records and other credentials, and provide for interviews to be conducted with such number of candidates as it deems to be necessary, desirable or expedient. Not more than 150 days following the date on which the committee meets to organize, the committee shall submit to the board of selectmen the names of not less than three nor more than five persons, plus two alternate names, whom it believes to be best suited to perform the duties of the office of town manager.
Within 30 days following the date the list of nominees is submitted to it the board of selectmen shall choose one of the said nominees to serve as town manager. In the event the board of selectmen shall fail to make an appointment within the said 30 days the screening committee shall, forthwith, appoint the town manager.
SECTION 15. Section 5-1 of said charter is hereby amended by striking out subsection (a) and inserting in place thereof the following subsection:-
(a) By-laws - Subject only to the provisions of this charter, the town meeting may, by by-law, reorganize, consolidate, create, merge, divide or abolish any town agency, in whole or in part; establish such new town agencies as it deems necessary or advisable, determine the manner of selection, the term of office and prescribe the functions of all such entities; provided, however, that no function assigned by this charter to a particular town agency may be discontinued, or assigned to any other town agency, unless this charter specifically so provides.
SECTION 16. Subsection (b) of said section 5-1 of said charter is hereby amended by striking out the last paragraph and inserting in place thereof the following paragraph:-
The town manager may, through the administrative code, and subject only to express prohibition in this charter, reorganize, consolidate or abolish any town agency, in whole or in part: establish such new town agencies as is deemed necessary to the same extent as is provided in subsection (a) of this section, for by-laws: and for such purpose transfer the duties and powers and, so far as is consistent with the use for which the funds were voted by the town, transfer the appropriation of one town agency to another; provided, however, that no function assigned by this charter to a particular town agency may be discontinued or assigned to any other town agency unless this charter specifically so provides.
SECTION 17. Said charter is hereby further amended by striking out section 7-7 and inserting in place thereof the following section:-
SECTION 7-7: PERIODIC REVIEW, CHARTER AND BY-LAWS
(a) Charter Review - At least once in every ten years, and in every year ending in a zero if there does not already exist one, a special committee to consist of nine members shall be established for the purpose of reviewing this charter and to make a report, with recommendations, to the town meeting concerning any proposed amendments which said committee may determine to be necessary or desirable. The committee shall consist of nine members who will be chosen as follows: the board of selectmen, the school committee, the planning board, and the board of assessors shall each designate one person, the finance committee shall designate two people, and three people shall be appointed by the town moderator. People appointed by the said agencies, may, but need not, be members of the agency by which they are designated. The people appointed by the town moderator shall be voters not otherwise involved in town government as a member of any appointed or elected town agency. The committee shall meet to organize within 30 days of the call by the selectmen to establish the committee, notwithstanding the failure of any agency to make their designated appointment.
(b) By-law review - In each year ending in a five or a zero the board of selectmen shall appoint a special committee for the purpose of drafting a proposal for the revision and recodification of all by-laws of the town. This committee will present its proposal to the selectmen who will include it on the warrant for the fall annual town meeting. The proposal must appear on the warrant no later than the year following the one in which the committee was formed. This committee shall have their proposal reviewed by town counsel or by special counsel retained for this purpose. Copies of the revised by-laws shall be made available for distribution to the public at a charge not to exceed the actual per copy cost of reproduction.
SECTION 18. Section 7-8 of said charter is hereby amended by striking out subsections (e) and (f) and inserting in place thereof the following two subsections:-
(e) Quorum - A majority of the members of a multiple member body then in office shall constitute a quorum. A number of members of a multiple member body that is less than a quorum may meet from time to time in order to compel the attendance of absent members in the manner and subject to the penalties prescribed by the rules of the multiple member body or this charter. No other action taken by a multiple member body that meets with less than a quorum shall be valid or binding unless ratified by a majority vote of the multiple member body meeting with a quorum present.
(f) Composition of Multiple Member Bodies - All multiple member bodies when established shall be composed of an odd number of members. Whenever the terms of office of a multiple member body are for more than one year such terms of office shall be so arranged that as nearly an equal number of terms as possible will expire each year.
SECTION 19. Said charter is hereby further amended by striking out section 8-5 and inserting in place thereof the following section:-
SECTION 8-5: CONTINUATION IN OFFICE
All town officers and members of all boards, committees, and commissions who have heretofore been elected and who will henceforth be appointed under the provisions of this charter shall serve out the balance of the term for which they were elected, subject to their retirement or resignation. Their successors shall be appointed.
SECTION 20. Said charter is hereby further amended by adding the following section:-
SECTION 8-6: TOWN ADMINISTRATIVE ORGANIZATION
Until such time as a different form of organization shall be provided, in accordance with the provisions of article 5 of this charter, the following outline of organization shall be operative, though possibly not complete:
The board of selectmen shall appoint:
A town manager
A town counsel
A town accountant
A board of health
A conservation commission
A board of registrars of voters and other election officers
A zoning board of appeals
A council on aging
An industrial development commission
A commission on handicapped affairs
An industrial development financing authority
A fair housing committee
A cable television committee
An emergency management director and related personnel
An arts lottery council
An historic district commission
A Norton historical commission
A cemetery commission
A solid waste advisory committee
A park and recreation committee.
The town manager shall appoint:
A police chief and police officers
A fire chief and other firefighters
An inspector of buildings
A wiring inspector
A gas inspector
A plumbing inspector
A dog officer
A sealer of weights and measures
A parking clerk
A tree warden
A right-to-know coordinator
A veterans agent
A human resource director.
SECTION 21. This act shall be submitted for acceptance to the voters of the town of Norton at the annual town election to be held in the year 2000 in the form of the following question which shall be placed on the official ballot to be used for the election of town officers at said election:
"Shall an act passed by the General Court in the year 2000 entitled 'An Act relative to the charter of the town of Norton', be accepted?"
If a majority of the votes cast in answer to said question is in the affirmative, sections 1 to 20, inclusive, of this act shall take effect, but not otherwise.
SECTION 22. Section 21 shall take effect upon its passage.