Charter Commission to Talk about Community Board Term Limits

Three propositions that would change the way city government operates will be on the ballot for voters to decide on in the Nov. 6 election and the New York City Charter Revision Commission is coming to Brooklyn to host a public forum to explain the proposed changes.

The forum, billed by the commission as a “strictly neutral” education forum, will take place on Monday, Oct. 22, at Brooklyn College, 2900 Bedford Ave., inside Ingersoll Hall, starting at 6:30 p.m.

The propositions include a controversial measure to establish term limits on members of local community boards.

The Oct. 22 session is part of a series of forums the commission is holding across the city to give voters information about the ballot propositions heading into Election Day.

The propositions are based on recommendations made by the commission.

“This commission has made significant proposals on issues relating to the city’s civic life and we have worked hard to engage city residents along the way,” Commission Chairperson Cesar Perales said in a statement.

Under the community board proposition, board members would be limited to four consecutive terms with each term lasting two years.

The idea is to increase diversity and to add new voices, according to the commission.

Community board members, who are unpaid, are appointed by borough presidents with input from City Council members and serve two-year terms. Currently, there is no limit on the number of years they can serve.

The primary role of community boards is to advise city agencies on land use matters and other issues from a neighborhood perspective. There are 59 community boards in New York City, including 18 in Brooklyn.

Community board members opposed to the idea charged that term limits would deprive boards of seasoned veterans with knowledge of how to navigate city bureaucracy.

“I agree that we need to promote diversity, but I don’t think term limits is the way to do it. You would be losing people who have a lot of institutional knowledge about city government,” Brian Kaszuba, a member of Brooklyn’s Community Board 10, told this newspaper in a recent interview.

Another proposition would establish a Civic Engagement Commission to spearhead a citywide participatory budgeting program and work with community-based organizations.

The third proposition would change the city’s campaign finance system by lowering contribution limits and increasing the matching funds participating candidates can receive.

The propositions will be listed on the back of the ballot. The city has launched a “Flip Your Ballot” campaign to remind voters that they will have to turn the ballot over.

If the ballot propositions are approved, the changes will be written into the City Charter.

The City Charter is the document that lays out the structure and function of New York City’s government.

The commission has also launched a website,, to provide information on the ballot propositions.

Mayor Bill de Blasio appointed a charter revision commission specifically to look at ways to increase public participation in government. The mayor’s commission is not to be confused with a separate charter revision commission organized by the City Council. That panel will make recommendations on changes to the charter to appear on the ballot in 2019.

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