A summary of the revisions to the Northampton City Charter as explained by members of the Charter Review Committee.
The new charter mandates that the annual budgets from the Mayor's office submitted for approval by the City Council include a line-item separately identifying the compensation and benefits provided to all elected officials.
The City Council has the authority under the current city charter to set the salaries of elected officials through ordinance, while the Mayor retains the legal discretion under state law to determine elected officials' eligibility for benefits, including participation in the City's group health and life insurance plans. Under the proposed charter, the City Council and Mayor will retain these powers.
But there are inherent conflicts of interest in these processes. City Councilors set their own salaries. Mayors who determine eligibility for benefits create the possibility for patronage abuse. Since the potential for such conflicts cannot be completely negated, there is a need for greater transparency. With clear budget line items, the public would be better positioned to see how elected officials are being compensated, providing an additional check to possible impropriety.
To further increase public input on fair and reasonable levels of compensation, the new charter creates a permanent Compensation of Elected Officials Advisory Board comprised of citizens that would review compensation levels and make recommendations to the City Council.
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