County charter meetings slated

By HEATHER NELLIS

Recorder News Staff

The Montgomery County Charter Commission has scheduled three public information sessions this month to educate people about their proposal to change county government.

It's also created a website and a Facebook page, and setup an e-mail address where people can send questions about the proposal, which will be voted on during the Nov. 6 election.

"When we presented the charter to the Board of Supervisors, they told us they expected us to explain the proposal to the voters," said commission Chairman Dustin Swanger. "We want to do that in every way possible."

The first information session is scheduled Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Amsterdam City Hall, 61 Church St., in the Common Council chambers. Organizers are working to get the session broadcast on Public Access, and plan to put the video on its website, www.montgomerycountycharter.com.

The second session will be held Oct. 24 at 7 p.m. at the Glen town hall, 7 Erie St., Fultonville, and the third on Oct. 25 at 7 p.m. at the Canajoharie town hall, 12 Mitchell St.

At each session, the commission will present the history of the charter and explain how it was crafted.

The nine-member commission was appointed by the Board of Supervisors to write a charter, and it was completed in July.

A charter is a document that defines the powers and duties of a government. The commission's proposed charter seeks to replace the 15 member county Board of Supervisors with a nine member legislature.

Supervisors will still be elected to serve the 10 town governments, but nine legislators from across the county will be elected to serve the county board.

The charter will also create an elected county executive to oversee the county departments. He or she will appoint department heads, propose a budget, and will have veto powers that can be overridden by a two-thirds majority of the legislature.

Swanger said one of the concerns the commission has is people will cast uneducated votes at the Nov. 6 polls.

"We want to make sure people know what they're voting on," he said. "I'm concerned people will only see it as change, and just vote against it, even if they don't know what it is."

Vice Chairman Jim Post, the mayor of Palatine Bridge, said the goal is to provide truthful information about the charter, not necessarily to sell anyone on the idea.

"We want to answer voters' questions about the Charter," he said. "We want to give them the facts, and let them make their own decision."

The public is also encouraged to their website, www.montgomerycountycharter.com, and Facebook page, www.facebook.com/montgomerycountycharter. Both sites have detailed information about the charter.

The public may submit their questions about the charter to the commissioners by e-mailing montgomerycountycharter@gmail.com. The answers will be posted online.