Port Deposit adopted a charter amendment resolution Tuesday, November 6, to reduce the number of members on its town council from six to four.
Council members Robert Kuhs, Christopher Broomell, Kevin Brown, and Kate Rodgers all voted in favor of the amendment resolution. John Haines and Thomas Knight did not attend the meeting.
The town must advertise the resolution for four weeks. Town administrator Vicky Rinkerman said the resolution also will be posted on Port Deposit's social media sites.
If there are no objections, the charter change will become effective December 26. In order to bring the amendment to a referendum vote, 20 percent of the qualified voters must sign a petition.
Council member and deputy mayor Robert Kuhs introduced the amendment.
"We have the second smallest municipality (approximately 650 residents) in the county, yet the largest council of anyone," Kuhs said. "I think the council has too many people on it. This is my 13th year serving on the council and I've been one of six [the entire time]. Actually, it's rather cumbersome. It's also difficult in a small town to recruit people to serve. The elections will probably be a little more competitive."
On May 14, 2019, there will be an election for one council member who will serve a four-year term. On May 11, 2021, three council members will be elected. The elected council member receiving the lowest number of votes will serve a two-year term and the remaining two elected members will each serve a four-year term. In the event that the lowest number of votes for an elected council member cannot be determined, the elected member whose last name begins with a letter closest to the letter "z" will be considered as having the lowest number of votes.
Every odd numbered year from that point, two council members will be elected to four-year terms.
The position of mayor is not affected by the resolution. Mayors serve a four-year term with the next election for that job occurring in May.
Current mayor Wayne Tome's is in favor of the amendment. "I've been advocating for this for years," he said.
"One of the problems is finding enough people for council and the committees...It's a good move. It will help us have good representation for the residents."
Tome also said he prefers two-year terms. "It's an unpaid position and, for a lot of people, it doesn't work well with their schedule," the mayor said. "People have had to resign in the past and that's not what you like to see."
Tome said, in the past, some council members with four-year terms became disenchanted with the job after the initial excitement dissipated and caused problems before rehabilitating their public image prior to the election.
In other Port Deposit news:
Rinkerman said the town received its fourth $50,000 facade improvement grant through the Department of Housing and Community development.
Projects are ongoing.
Applications for the latest round of funding will be available in spring, 2019, Rinkerman said.