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Charter panel OKs final proposal

July 12, 2012
By ARTHUR CLEVELAND , The Leader Herald

FONDA - The Montgomery County Charter Commission's final proposal calls for replacing the county's Board of Supervisors with a county executive and a governing body of nine legislators.

The 10-member commission finalized its proposal Wednesday, moving the charter closer to a November public vote.

On July 24, the Board of Supervisors will decide whether to schedule a public hearing on the charter for Aug. 14.

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The county board then will vote on the charter, which then would be sent into the state Board of Elections by Sept. 21 to appear on the ballot during the November elections.

Under the commission's proposal, each of the nine legislators would represent a district.

The commission approved a district map proposed by Vincent Stark, a commission member. The map is based predominately on population and municipal lines.

William Wills, a commission member, said the new form of government could help streamline and improve the effectiveness of the county government.

One of the items in the charter that was debated was making the county treasurer position an appointed one rather than an elected one.

Several commission members disagreed with that part of the plan, but Dustin Swanger, chairman of the Charter Commission, said he would rather have an appointed official who is qualified and trustworthy.

The commission kept the appointed treasurer position in the proposed charter.

Swanger stated the Board of Supervisors can make changes to the charter during the Aug. 14 meeting.

"Opinions can be heard," said Jim Post, vice chairman for the Charter Commission.

Swanger said that while many feared a change, the commission is not out to get anyone.

"This is not a referendum on the supervisors; it's a referendum on the structure of government," Swanger said.

Wills said he's confident the Board of Supervisors will pass the charter.

Swanger said he isn't sure how the public would vote on the charter in November.

"It's a lot of change, and I'm not naive in the fact that I know change comes [with] difficulty," Swanger said. "I think [the charter's chances of passing] will depend on how well we can educate the public what this is and what it can mean for the future."



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