Special meeting called for town charter amendments, 'town council' proposal

Ty Roush
Black Mountain News
Discussion is expected to be held on how the board appoints candidates to open board seats.

The Board of Aldermen will hold a special call meeting Feb. 18 to discuss changes to the town charter and a proposal to rename the governing body as "town council." It will be broadcast online at 8:30 a.m. and be made available for future viewing.

Discussion is expected to be held on how the board appoints candidates to open board seats.

Alderman Doug Hay suggested an application process be held at least two weeks out from appointee selection for those interested in applying. To complement the application process, a subcommittee comprised of board members was suggested by both Hay and alderman Ryan Stone to interview candidates.

Hay said he hoped his proposal would increase public input.

Alderman Archie Pertiller Jr., appointed to fill Mayor Larry Harris' seat in August and later reelected in November, suggested that the board accept applications from those who ran in the previous election.

The process to file for candidacy is "tedious," Pertiller said," and those who applied have shown "a desire to work on the board."

Harris, though supportive of Pertiller's suggestion, added that the board may not have a large group of candidates each election cycle.

Public concern arose following the appointments of Harris and Pertiller to mayor and aldermen, respectively, following Don Collin's decision to retire as mayor. 

A Sept. 21 online forum featuring Pertiller, Hay and Pam King included a discussion about clarifying portions of the town charter. Each candidate voted in favor of resolving "any known issues."

King said that same-day appointments, like Harris and Pertiller, caused a disconnect between the board and residents.

“As I understand it, filling a slot the same night it becomes vacant is very unusual,” she said. “And really the only reason you could do it that way is if it was orchestrated beforehand. I’d love to see a more open process when a slot becomes open … that there’s public input.”

A previous special call meeting was held Jan. 14 to discuss term limits for appointed officials. The board unanimously decided that appointments made to the board more than 135 days out from the next general election will serve until the next election.

A subsequent proposal by alderman Pam King suggested that the board consider a name change to "town council." Despite support from Harris and other aldermen, a vote and future discussion was expected to continue Feb. 8.

The new term limit, conforming to Chapter 160A, Article 5 of the state's general statutes, was recommended as an option by town attorney Ron Sneed. Sneed suggested during the board's Sept. 14 meeting that the board refer to the statute when considering any changes to the town charter.

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