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Town Council rescinds Mayors ability to vote

Ingrid Mezo

(3/9) Mayor James Hoover voted as part of Emmitsburg’s Board of Commissioners for the last time on Monday. A charter change that prohibits the town mayor from voting becomes effective on Saturday.

Town commissioners voted for the charter change in January, along with another change that adds a fifth commissioner to the town’s board.

During Monday’s town meeting, officials discussed the future role of the mayor, at Hoover’s request.

During that discussion, board members agreed that the mayor would still be an active participant in town meetings and would still sit at the dais with commissioners.

‘‘I see absolutely no changes from before when the mayor didn’t vote," Commissioner Bill O’Neil said. ‘‘The only purpose of the charter change was to prevent him from voting. Otherwise, I absolutely welcome the mayor’s comments and for him to sit up here with us at the dais. The mayor’s job as the executive is carrying out our decisions."

Commissioner Chris Staiger agreed.

‘‘The mayor will be a full participant in town meetings with the exception that he will no longer vote," Staiger said.

Hoover said after the meeting that he was satisfied with the discussion.

‘‘I really wanted to hear everybody say the same thing," Hoover said. ‘‘I had heard comments outside the meetings that I was kind of concerned that everybody wasn’t on the same page. From my past experience on the council, not with this board, I’ve seen many different things come back a few months later, and people said no, that’s not what they meant."

Hoover also said he did not believe anything needed to be added or subtracted from the town’s charter to clarify the mayor’s role in years to come.

Contract to televise town meetings approved

Town officials voted 4-1 Monday to approve a video bid contract to allow town meetings to be televised. Commissioner Art Elder cast the sole vote against the measure.

Commissioner Chris Staiger, who had previously spoke against spending money on a video system, said he now realized it was important for residents to be able to get a full account of what happens at town meetings.

The town had budgeted $30,000 for installing video equipment in Town Hall this year, but commissioners tabled the vote in October until they could hear a presentation from a bidder.

The bid was awarded to Connectivity Group LLC to install the system for $22,248.95 as well as a video projector for $8,569.

Town Manager David Haller said after the meeting that he expects the installation to take place in mid-May, but could not say how long it would take for the system to be up and running.

‘‘A picture is worth 1,000 words, as they say, and you can really characterize when somebody says something whether it was serious, or they were joking, or it was said in anger," Hoover said in support of installing the system.

The video system will allow the town to save town meetings on DVD so that meetings can be aired several times to give multiple opportunities to watch a meeting on the local cable channel.

‘‘If [people] can watch at their leisure, [they] may be more interested in what is going on in the town, or at least have a better understanding and be better informed," Hoover said. ‘‘We all know everybody today is all about convenience."

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