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Thurmont adopts revised town charter

Jeremy Hauck

(2/22) Thurmont commissioners on Tuesday voted to adopt a new town charter, replacing the 1986 version of the same document with one that, according to Mayor Martin Burns, clarifies the duties of the mayor.

‘‘This is clarification of the current charter," Burns said.

The revised document, which took four years to develop, according to commissioners Glenn Muth and Bill Blakeslee, becomes official on April 11.

Burns said at the town meeting that individual commissioners had entered into executive territory in the past.

‘‘You don’t have the authority to go into town departments and micromanage," he said.

The 1986 version of the charter gives broad, unspecific power to the mayor to oversee the town’s budget.

‘‘The president [of the board] shall have supervision over the financial administration of the town government," it reads.

Muth voted not to adopt the resolution, saying, ‘‘it’s changing the form of government from weak mayor to strong mayor."

In particular, Muth said Wednesday that the new charter creates two new positions in the town government that report only to the mayor, and that, without a ‘‘transition plan," the change is too abrupt.

The revision includes a section that describes a chief administrative officer and a chief financial officer – positions that don’t exist in the town government’s current structure – as ‘‘accountable to the mayor, consistent with the policies and resolutions passed by the Board of Commissioners."

‘‘We haven’t had one moment of discussion about those two positions," Muth said, adding that the section was added about a year ago. ‘‘In my view, that is changing the direction [of town government]."

Commissioner Ron Terpko said he could not comment on how the new positions would be filled.

‘‘I don’t know what the mayor’s plans are right now," Terpko said.

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