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City of Northampton, MA
Hampshire County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
(a) 
Commencement - Initiative procedures shall be started by the filing of a proposed initiative petition with the city clerk or the secretary of the school committee. The petition shall be addressed to the city council or to the school committee, shall contain a request for the passage of a particular measure which shall be set forth in full in the petition and shall be signed by at least 250 voters. At least 25 signatures must be certified from each ward. The petition shall be accompanied by an affidavit signed by 10 voters and containing their residential address stating those voters will constitute the petitioners committee and be responsible for circulating the petition and filing it in proper form.
(b) 
Referral to City Solicitor - The city clerk or the secretary of the school committee shall, immediately following receipt of a proposed petition, deliver a copy of the petition to the city solicitor. The city solicitor shall, within 15 days following receipt of a copy of the petition, in writing, advise the city council or the school committee and the city clerk whether the measure as proposed may lawfully be proposed by the initiative process and whether, in its present form, it may lawfully be adopted by the city council or the school committee. If the opinion of the city solicitor is that the measure is not in proper form, the reply shall state the reasons for this opinion, in full. A copy of the opinion of the city solicitor shall be mailed to the members of the petitioners committee.
(c) 
Submission to City Clerk - If the city solicitor determines that the petition is in a proper form, the city clerk shall provide blank forms for the use of subsequent signers and shall print at the top of each blank form a fair, concise summary of the proposed measure, as determined by the city solicitor, together with the names and addresses of the first 10 voters who signed the originating petition. The city clerk shall notify the first 10 voters that the blank forms are issued. Within 30 days following the date of the notice, the petition shall be returned and filed with the city clerk signed by at least 10 per cent of the total number of registered voters as of the date of the most recent regular city election. Signatures to an initiative petition need not all be on 1 paper, but all papers pertaining to any 1 measure shall be fastened together and shall be filed as a single instrument, with the endorsement on it of the name and address of the person designated as filing the papers. With each signature on the petition there shall also appear the street and number of the residence of each signer. Within 10 days following the filing of the petition, the registrars of voters shall ascertain the number of voters that signed the petition and the percentage that number is of the total number of voters as of the date of the most recent regular city election. The registrars of voters shall attach to the petition a certificate showing the results of its examination and shall return the petition to the city clerk or the secretary of the school committee, depending on how the petition is addressed. A copy of the registrars of voters' certificate shall also be mailed to the members of the petitioners committee.
(d) 
Action on Petitions - Within 30 days following the date a petition has been returned to the city clerk or the secretary of the school committee and after publication under subsection (f), the city council or the school committee shall act with respect to each initiative petition by passing it without change, by passing a measure which is stated to be in lieu of the initiative measure or by rejecting it. The passage of a measure which is in lieu of an initiative measure shall be deemed to be a rejection of the initiative measure. If the city council or the school committee fails to act within 30 days following the date the measure is returned to it, the measure shall be deemed to have been rejected on the thirtieth day. If an initiative measure is rejected, the city clerk or the secretary of the school committee shall promptly give notice of that fact to the petitioners committee by certified mail.
(e) 
Supplementary Petitions - Within 60 days following the date an initiative petition has been rejected, a supplemental initiative petition may be filed with the city clerk or the secretary of the school committee, but only by persons constituting the original petitioners committee. The supplemental initiative petition shall be signed by a number of additional voters equal to at least 5 per cent of the total number of registered voters as of the date of the most recent regular city election. The signatures on the initial petition filed under subsection (c) and the signatures on the supplemental petition filed under this subsection, taken together, shall contain the signatures of at least 15 per cent of the total number of registered voters as of the date of the most recent regular city election. If the number of signatures to this supplemental petition is found to be sufficient by the city clerk, the city council shall call a special election to be held on a date not less than 35 nor more than 90 days following the date of the certificate of the city clerk that a sufficient number of registered voters have signed the supplemental initiative petition and shall submit the proposed measure, without alteration, to the voters for determination, but if a city election is to be held within 120 days following the date of the certificate, the city council may omit calling the special election and cause the question to appear on the election ballot at the approaching election for determination by the voters.
(f) 
Publication - The full text of an initiative measure which is submitted to the voters shall be published in at least 1 local newspaper not less than 7 nor more than 14 days preceding the date of the election at which the question is to be voted upon. Additional copies of the full text shall be available for distribution to the public in the office of the city clerk.
(g) 
Form of Question - The ballots used when voting on a measure proposed by the voters under this section shall contain a question in substantially the following form:
Shall the following measure which was proposed by an initiative petition take effect?
(Here insert the fair, concise summary of the proposed measure, as determined by the city solicitor as referenced in subsection (c)).
Cyes.tif
(h) 
Time of Taking Effect - Subject to section 9-4, if a majority of the votes cast on the question is in the affirmative, the measure shall be deemed to be effective immediately, unless a later date is specified in the measure.
(a) 
Petition, Effect on Final Vote - If, within 21 days following the date on which the city council or the school committee has voted finally to approve any measure, a petition signed by a number of voters equal to at least 15 per cent of the total number of voters as of the date of the most recent regular city election and addressed to the city council or to the school committee, protesting against the measure or any part of it is filed with the secretary of the school committee or city clerk, the effective date of that measure shall be temporarily suspended. The school committee or the city council shall immediately reconsider its vote on the measure or part of it and, if the measure is not rescinded, the city council shall provide for the submission of the question for a determination by the voters either at a special election, which it may call at its convenience, within such time as may be requested by the school committee or at the next regular city election; provided, however, that pending this submission and determination, the effect of the measure shall continue to be suspended.
(b) 
Certain Initiative Provisions to Apply - The petition described in this section shall be termed a referendum petition and section 9-1, as the section relates to the filing and certification of signatures, shall apply to such referendum petitions, except that the words "measure or part thereof protested against" shall be deemed to replace the word "measure" and the word "referendum" shall be deemed to replace the word "initiative". Subject to section 9-4, the measure or part thereof protested against shall be null and void unless a majority of those voting on the question shall vote in favor of the measure or part thereof protested against at the election.
None of the following shall be subject to the initiative or the referendum procedures:
(1) 
proceedings relating to the internal organization or operation of the city council or of the school committee;
(2) 
an emergency measure adopted under the charter;
(3) 
the city budget or the school committee budget as a whole;
(4) 
any appropriation for the payment of the city's debt or debt service;
(5) 
an appropriation of funds to implement a collective bargaining agreement;
(6) 
proceedings relating to the appointment, removal, discharge, employment, promotion, transfer, demotion or other personnel action;
(7) 
any proceedings repealing or rescinding a measure or part of it which is protested by referendum procedures;
(8) 
any proceedings providing for the submission or referral to the voters at an election; and
(9) 
resolutions and other votes constituting ordinary, routine matters not suitable as the subject of a referendum petition.
For any measure to be effective under initiative procedure and for any measure to be declared null and void under a referendum procedure, at least 20 per cent of the voters as of the most recent regular city election must vote at an election that includes on the ballot submission to the voters of 1 or more initiative or referendum questions.
The city council may on its own motion and shall at the request of the school committee, if a measure originates with that body and pertains to affairs under its jurisdiction, submit to the voters at a regular city election for adoption or rejection a measure in the same manner and with the same force and affect as are provided for submission by initiative or referendum petitions.
If 2 or more measures passed at the same election contain conflicting provisions, only the 1 receiving the greatest number of affirmative votes shall take effect.