Letter: In Barrington, an urgent request to take the survey

Posted 11/29/23

To the editor:

I am reaching out as chair of the Barrington Charter Review Commission (CRC) with a request for help from our entire Barrington community.

The Barrington CRC is up and …

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Letter: In Barrington, an urgent request to take the survey

Posted

To the editor:

I am reaching out as chair of the Barrington Charter Review Commission (CRC) with a request for help from our entire Barrington community.

The Barrington CRC is up and running, working on our task of reviewing the Town’s Charter. This review, required by state law, is undertaken every 10 years, to generate recommendations for changes to be given to the Town Council, who deliberate and decide what if any changes will be proposed to Barrington voters on the Nov. 2024 ballot. The Commission is made up of 11 members and they welcome every resident’s input on our local government functions.

Since September the CRC has been meeting monthly at the Global Classroom in the middle school. The meetings are livestreamed and open to the public. Invitations for comment on the Charter has been sent to every board and commission in town and access to comments are also available on the Town’s website (www.barrington.ri.gov).  

We invited the School Committee Chair, the Superintendent and the Director of Administration and Finance for the Barrington Public Schools, the Town Manager and the Fire Chief to our November meeting to hear their feedback, and learn about their proposed changes. Commission members have asked lots of questions and are taking seriously the role we have in reviewing the Charter.

When the Town Council appointed members of the Commission, it charged the CRC with “evaluating alternatives to Barrington’s Financial Town Meeting (FTM) format to be delivered to the Council.” The FTM undertakes the most important act the voters have…action on the Town’s budget. Just like your personal budget, the Town budget defines the priorities and their associated costs, yet must also determine the rate of taxation needed to achieve that bottom line. That’s a lot of important decisions. Attendance at these meetings, for a community of about 17,000, is regularly only a few hundred people. Barrington is not alone in struggling with attendance issues at FTMs. FTMs are held at a very specific time and date which many residents simply cannot make due to work, caregiving, challenges to driving in the dark, transportation issues and general time constraints in busy schedules, as well as not truly understanding an FTM as they are unique to New England.

We need your help! 

A major focus of this Commission is to elicit as much input as we can garner from Barrington residents about their views of the FTM...what works, what doesn’t work and opportunities for improvement. To that end the Commission has developed an online survey at https://bit.ly/404hLlg as well as a link on the Town’s website.  

On behalf of the entire Commission, I share an urgent request for every voter in Barrington to take the survey. Your partnership in this important work will provide us with valuable input as the Commission grapples with the best way forward with our charge. Responses will be accepted until Dec. 8. Your voice matters to us and we welcome your participation! 

Sincerely

Joy Hearn

Barrington

Hearn serves as Barrington Charter Review Commission Chair.

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