Best turnout yet as Watertown city charter hearings come to an end

Updated: Jul. 24, 2019 at 7:03 AM EDT
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WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - It was the last scheduled public hearing on Watertown's proposed new city charter -- and probably the best attended.

"I think this was the best turnout that we've had at all the three sessions, so it's nice to see that we had people here from all over the city to ask questions," city council member Lisa Ruggiero said.

Tuesday night was the last chance city residents had to ask questions about the charter. About two dozen people turned out to the Italian-American Civic Association.

Some wanted to know why Watertown can't switch to a "strong mayor" form of government.

Charter commission vice chairman Jeffery Fallon says that won't happen.

"It won't be part of the new charter -- we talked a little bit about that tonight and a lot of that is in the executive summary that we prepared for the public," Fallon said. "It goes into better details about the decision that was made not to do it."

Others voiced concerns about the creation of a public safety commissioner position and how that would affect how the fire department runs.

The commission is taking these comments into consideration now and plans to have its final proposal completed by August 5, a deadline to make sure people can vote on the charter in November.

"I would say take the time to learn about the document," Fallon said. "Feel free to reach out to any one of us or your elected officials. We will do all of the informational education that we can to try ot get people to make an informed decision in November."

The charter will be out for about three months once it's revised for the last time and meeting-goers asked if there could be more sessions like Tuesday's before the election.

“It was suggested by somebody in the audience to do some open houses leading up to the election in November to actually say these are the changes, this is what has been submitted and this is what you will be voting on in November,” Ruggiero said.

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