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Charter proposal pitched to public

October 18, 2012
By ARTHUR CLEVELAND , The Leader Herald

AMSTERDAM - Speaking to about half-a-dozen guests in City Hall, Montgomery County Charter Commission member Vincent Stark explained what the charter proposal is and how it could affect county government.

Stark explained why the charter would be so important to the county, stating some of the flaws in the structure of county government both county employees and the Charter Commission discovered through developing the proposal.

The new charter would have nine district legislators who would be elected for three-year terms. A limit of four consecutive terms is placed on the legislator.

Article Photos

Montgomery County Charter Commission member Vincent Stark talks about the proposed charter Wednesday night at Amsterdam City Hall.
The Leader-Herald/Arthur Cleveland

The legislator's job would be to cover all matters related to legislation, appropriation and determining policy for the county.

The county executive would be elected for a four-year term, with a maximum term limit of three consecutive full terms. The executive post would be a full-time position, with a rule in place saying the executive would hold no other elected public or elected political office during his term.

The executive's powers and duties would include responsibilities such as executing and enforcing all laws and resolutions of the legislature, and exercising control over all administrative departments, offices and agencies of the county government.

Fact Box

Next sessions

The Montgomery County Charter Commission will conduct two more meetings for the public to get information about the proposal. The sessions are scheduled for:

Wednesday, 7 p.m., Glen Town Hall.

Oct. 25, 7 p.m., Canajoharie Town Hall

The executive would have the ability to approve and veto any votes by the legislature. The executive also would have the ability to appoint officials for all county departments not administered by elected officials.

According to Stark, anonymous interviews with employees brought forth several claims of poor management by the current system.

With no one day-to-day executive in charge of the county, Stark said, many employees told the commission that county government was like "a ship with 15 captains."

"The executive is a board acting in tandem," Stark said. "No member of the Board of Supervisors has any authority unless acting in concert with the majority of the board."

That has led to some department heads, according to Stark, having to decide which orders to follow based on the supervisor giving them, or else risk their jobs due to the politics of the supervisors.

Stark said the charter was not an indictment of the members of the Board of Supervisors, but the form of government.

Stark addressed concerns he has heard. Some cited the loss of town's interests at the county level, and some called the proposal a new layer of government.

Stark said the last sentiment is false.

"There is already that layer of government - it's called the Board of Supervisors," Stark said.

Amsterdam city residents Christine Andrzejewski and Barbara Tomasik were in attendance.

"I just wanted to be better informed on it," Andrzejewski said.

Tomasik said she still needed to decide how she would vote on the issue, but the information certainly helped.

"I knew a little bit, but not a whole lot," Tomasik said.

The commission will host two more sessions for the public before the general election Nov. 6.

The second session will be held Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the Glen Town Hall, and the third on Oct. 25 at 7 p.m. at the Canajoharie Town Hall.



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