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Taneytown City Council approves referendum language

The Taneytown City Council voted 3-1 Wednesday to adopt a resolution outlining the terms of the city's Nov. 15 referendum election and the ballot question's specific language.

At the special meeting, Councilman Donald Frazier opposed the resolution and Mayor Pro Tem Diane Foster was absent.

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The special election date was passed 4-1 last month, with Frazier opposing. Frazier said he would prefer the referendum question appear on the ballot during the May 1 general election to limit additional costs the city might incur in holding the special election.

The expected special election comes after the Taneytown City Council approved a resolution on April 11 to amend the city's charter. The resolution outlines the process to remove an elected official from office for absence from three or more consecutive meetings; just cause consisting of a violation of criminal law, federal and state law, county codes and regulations, the City's ethics law, or provisions of the city code and charter; or by recall election by the voters of the city.

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According to Taneytown City Attorney Jack Gullo Jr., the city verified and validated a referendum petition regarding the charter amendment. The petition contained 22.85 percent of the city's registered voters. All valid signatures were registered voters who had signed their names and included their addresses.

During last month's meeting, Gullo advised the council that they could convene a special meeting on Oct. 5 prior to the start of its October workshop to adopt the necessary resolution. Gullo advised the council that because the election must occur 40 to 60 days after a resolution adoption, the special meeting needed to held in a timely manner.

During the special meeting, Gullo reminded the council that the referendum election would be Tuesday, Nov. 15 between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. He advised the council that it is required to pass a resolution to hold a special election. Wednesday's special meeting focused on specific language in the referendum.

"The exact language has to be included in the resolution," Gullo said. "Tonight you have to make sure that the language is what you want it to be."

After a referendum petition was filed on May 21, the Taneytown City Council is expected to hold a special election deciding whether or not to amend a section of the city's charter. The proposed resolution permits the removal of an elected official from office for absence from three or more consecutive meetings; just cause consisting of a violation of criminal law, federal and state law, county codes and regulations, the City's ethics law, or provisions of the City Code and Charter; or by recall

"The idea of any referendum is to say yes or no," Gullo continued. "This follows the format of the state referendum election ballot."

The council made several recommendations for the referendum's language. Councilman Bradley Wantz suggested the question read "on whether to amend" rather than "A yes vote shall amend." He also suggested the referendum language remind citizens that they also have the ability to remove an elected official.

Frazier suggested the language include "duly" ahead of elected officials. The council also corrected a few grammatical errors, including deleting an "an" and changing "per cent" to "percent."

"We're trying to make it nice, clear and plain," Councilman Carl Ebaugh said. "Let's get this done and move on."

After the council determined the exact language, the city clerk printed the resolution out for the council to review. A motion was made to accept the language as printed, and the council voted 3 to 1, with Frazier opposing the language.

The council is expected to vote on a fiscal year 2016 budget amendment, a fiscal year 2017 budget amendment and an amendment to the city's sign ordinance during the council's Tuesday, Oct. 11 meeting.

michel.elben@carrollcountytimes.com

410-857-7873

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twitter.com/MichelElben

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