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Voters approve Montgomery County Charter in city and towns

Wednesday, November 07, 2012 - Updated: 7:10 PM

By HEATHER NELLIS

Recorder News Staff

A referendum to change Montgomery County’s government was approved by voters Tuesday.

In order to adopt the proposed local law establishing a home-rule charter, the referendum was required to garner a majority in the city of Amsterdam, and a cumulative majority of the 10 towns.

Republican election Commissioner Terry Smith said this morning both majorities were garnered. According to unofficial results, the charter was approved in the city by a margin of 2,665-1,339, and in the towns by 5,299-3645.

Charter Commission Chairman Dustin Swanger was thrilled with the results, he said.

“I’m very happy that it passed. I think it bodes well for the future of Montgomery County. I’ll continue to reiterate that this is not a referendum against people who hold office, it was a referendum for the structure of those offices.”

The charter will transfer the authority of the 15-member Board of Supervisors to a nine-member legislature, and institute an elected county executive position.

The proposition is the culmination of seven months of expedited research, deliberation and public meetings by the Charter Commission, which was appointed in March by the Board of Supervisors.

It was required, by resolution, to craft a charter, in less than four months, that included provisions for an elected county executive.

A charter is a document that defines the powers and duties of a government.

The commission was given the option whether the charter transferred legislative functions to a legislature, or retained a board of supervisors. The commission chose the former.

Currently, 10 supervisors are elected to serve their town governments, and they also serve on the county board with five supervisors elected from each of the city of Amsterdam’s wards.

Supervisors will still be elected to serve the 10 town governments, but will no longer serve the county board.

Instead, nine legislators will be chosen from districts that have equal population.

The charter directs the elected 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.

     

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