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Board may strip mayor of vote,
add one member

Robert Slavin
Frederick News Post

(1/6) The town board is considering expanding its membership from four members to five and stripping the mayor of his vote.

Mayor James Hoover has been voting consistently in board meetings since the start of 2005, said board president Chris Staiger. There has been some disagreement about whether Mr. Hoover has been the first mayor to do so in recent years, Mr. Staiger said after the meeting.

At Tuesday night's meeting, town commissioner William B. O'Neil Jr. said he believed the town's charter only allows the mayor to vote if the board would otherwise lack a quorum. Mr. O'Neil acknowledged that the town's attorney has given an OK to the mayor's voting practices.

Mr. O'Neil called for the charter to be changed to bar the mayor from voting on the board 'under any circumstance. He also called for the charter to be changed so that the board would expand from four to five commissioners, which would include setting a term for the new commissioner and setting a date for the commissioner's election.

Last, Mr. O'Neil called for the charter to be changed so that a vote of three rather than just two commissioners would be needed for the removal of a commissioner from the board.

Emmitsburg's mayors have the right to veto board-approved measures. If a measure is vetoed, the board can take up the matter up again and override the mayor's veto. On Tuesday night, no member of the board brought up the possibility of removing this right.

Mr. Staiger said the problem with just four commissioners having the right to vote is the likelihood of frequent ties.

Commissioner Glen Blanchard said he was in favor of the board having five commissioners.

Mr. Staiger said he supported changing the number of commissioner votes needed to expel a commissioner.

The board plans to consider taking action on the proposed changes to the charter at its Jan. 16 meeting.

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