Aldermen approve appointed official term limit, 'town council' name considered

Ty Roush
Black Mountain News
All amendments are submitted to state legislature for approval.

Appointments made to the Board of Aldermen more than 135 days out from the next general election will serve until the next election, the board unanimously decided.

This decision, conforming to Chapter 160A, Article 5 of the state's general statutes, was recommended as an option by town attorney Ron Sneed. During the board's Sept. 14 meeting, Sneed suggested the board refer to the statute when considering any future changes to the town charter in reference to term length for appointments.

Sneed proposed two options for the board to consider prior to the vote. The board had the option to amend the charter to override the statute altogether or to conform with some modifications.

All amendments to the charter are submitted to state legislature for approval. A previous amendment moving all elections to even-numbered years was submitted in 2018 and approved in 2019.

Alderman Pam King motioned to amend the charter to conform with the statute with a modification of 135 days, originally 90, to better define appointed official term lengths.

King later motioned and suggested the board be renamed "town council." Though Mayor Larry Harris and other board members supported the idea, a vote and future discussion were postponed to Feb. 8.

A discussion regarding the appointment process will also continue during the board's regularly scheduled February meeting.

Alderman Doug Hay suggested a two-week application process with a subsequent public interview process by the board. Hay said he hoped to have the process include more public input.

Additional changes to the charter are expected, Sneed said, who says he is looking to "clean it all up." While future changes are anticipated, there are examples of "archaic stuff in the charter that needs to be fixed."

Harris said he supported changes made to the charter. There are existing statutes in the charter that "leave things wide open, and I don't think that's by mistake."

"In our planning and thinking, you never really know what the future might hold, which is what makes some of these things difficult to plan for," Harris said. "I applaud the board for the desire to have transparency in these things."