The Lovettsville Town Council has scheduled two special meetings Monday night in hopes of finalizing propose changes to the Town Charter in time for consideration by the General Assembly.
After a slate of changes championed by Vice Mayor Chris Hornbaker failed to gain majority support during the council’s Dec. 16 meeting, members had planned to continue talks about what changes to make during the new year.
The original proposal drew criticism from town residents during a public hearing who objected to the plan to make the mayor a voting member of the council while stripping his veto power, and removing the prohibition of a sitting council member being appointed to fill a vacancy in the mayor’s seat.
At that time, Councilwoman Renee Edmonston proved to be the swing vote, supported taking more time to work though the options, with the goal of settling on a package that would have stronger council support. She said she would propose a new review schedule at the council’s first meeting in January.
However, during the council’s Jan. 6 meeting Hornbaker introduced a revised draft he said had been negotiated to address the concerns of council members who opposed the earlier version—including maintaining the mayor as a non-voting member with veto authority.
Councilmen Buchanan Smith, who supported the motion to postpone the issue at the Dec. 16 meeting, made a motion to rescind that action. That was approved on a 3-0-1-1 vote, with Edmonston abstaining and Councilman David Earl absent.
While that action permitted the council to move ahead with discussion on the charter changes, Town Attorney Shelby Caputo recommended, that because the topic was not listed on the published agenda for the council’s meeting, that the issue be moved to a future session when public comment could be made.
The council scheduled a special meeting for Monday, Jan. 10 at 7:30 p.m. If the council reaches agreement on a package of changes for the charter, the meeting will be adjourned. After that, the town clerk will write the minutes of the meeting and second meeting will be held that same night to approve those minutes.
Hornbaker said that action would be needed get the complete package to Del. Dave LaRock (R-33) before the start of the General Assembly session Jan. 12.
Edmonston said she was abstaining from votes on the charter amendments because of a proposed change that would remove the prohibition on non-elected council members voting on appropriation measures. As an appointed member, she said she wanted to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest.
Another new power proposed in the amendments is to permit the mayor or any three council members to request a confirmation vote on the hiring of any town staff member by the town manager. The current charter provides for confirmation votes of only town officers who serve at the pleasure of the council.
Read the latest proposed charter changes here.