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Emmitsburg may drop small committees to form community advisory board

Ashley Andyshak Hayes
Frederick News-Post

(10/6) Commissioners may consider dismantling the town's water, streets, and parks committees to establish one large community advisory board.
Town committee meetings, especially streets and water, have been poorly attended in recent years. Last year, then-commissioner Joyce Rosensteel suggested the town discontinue water committee meetings because of poor attendance. Despite Mayor Jim Hoover's effort to recruit people to fill vacant committee seats over the past year, many meetings have failed to draw a majority of members. Without a majority present, members cannot vote on agenda items.

On Monday, Commissioner Clifford Sweeney said the streets committee, on which he serves as board liaison, has had a voting quorum only once in the past year.

Commissioner Denise Etris, who serves as the board's liaison to the parks and recreation committee, said conflicts with personal schedules and an overall lack of interest among committee members leads to poor attendance. She suggested the town discontinue the streets and water committees, combine the two into one committee, or combine both with the parks and recreation committee, which is well-attended. The town's planning commission is state-mandated and would not be affected by such a change, Etris said.

The commissioners, the mayor and Town Manager Dave Haller agreed that a combined advisory board would likely be more effective than the separate committees. Board president Chris Staiger said the larger committee would provide more opportunities for people to discuss issues of interest to them, instead of confining discussion to only water- or streets-related issues, for instance.

Haller and town staff will determine what ordinance changes would be necessary to create the new advisory board and will present the information at a future town meeting.

In other business Monday:

Sweeney, who was elected to a fifth commissioner term last week, and newly elected commissioner Tim O'Donnell were sworn in. The board also reorganized, with Staiger retaining the president's seat. Sweeney was named vice president and commissioner Glenn Blanchard was named treasurer.

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