A Backwards Lesson in Government Structuring
A point of extended discussion at tonight’s Tiverton Charter Review Commission meeting was how citizens can be given some sort of budgetary power when 86% of the budget is untouchable by them because it is bound up in contracts. Looking at a flow chart of the budgetary process in Tiverton, commissioner Frank Marshall asked who is ultimately responsible for budgetary decisions.
After quite a bit of debate, the answer is: ultimately the voters. And how do they know whom to hold responsible?
Personally, I don’t see the big mystery about giving the voters a greater say in those “untouchable” contracts: give them the electorate’s power over the key negotiator. Tiverton’s executive authority currently rests with a town administrator whom the town council hires. Perhaps if he were elected, the town would have a point man whose employment would more directly rely on citizens’ getting the government that they desire or, alternatively, an elected watchdog in the town government.
Changing the administrator to the mayor strikes me as within the purview of a charter review commission.