Montgomery County voters OK new form of government

Tuesday, November 6, 2012
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— Voters in Montgomery County voted decisively Tuesday to change the form of their county government, 7,964 to 4,984.

A new form of county government, put forth by a charter commission studying the topic over the past year, replaces the county’s longstanding, 15-member Board of Supervisors with a nine-member legislature and a county executive.

Currently, supervisors in each of the county’s 10 towns are paid as executives of their respective towns and then get additional pay for their seat on the county board. Supervisors’ votes on the county board are weighted based on their towns’ populations. The legislature model does away with weighted voting by creating equally sized districts. Another five people, representatives for each of the city of Amsterdam's Five Wards, are also elected to the 15-member County Board.

Legislators will be elected for three-year terms with a maximum of four terms allowed. The only qualification to serve is that they be registered Montgomery County voters.

The new system also includes the new position of county executive, to be elected for a four-year term with a limit of three terms.

The county executive will be in charge of running day-to-day operations and hold the power to appoint heads of several departments — purchasing, economic development/planning/tourism and personnel — with approval by the county legislature.

The charter puts budget officer duties in the hands of the executive, who will hold supervisory control over departments and agencies. The executive will be able to appoint staff members without approval by the county legislature.

The executive will have the power to approve or veto legislation approved by the county legislature, which, in its next meeting, can override the vetoed legislation with a two-thirds vote.

Elections will be held for new legislators and a county executive in 2013.

The positions of sheriff, county clerk, county treasurer, district attorney and county coroner will still be elected and are unchanged by the new charter.

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