Montgomery County

Montgomery County charter group sets first hearing

The cogs of government, known to move slowly, have picked up the pace in Montgomery County.

The cogs of government, known to move slowly, have picked up the pace in Montgomery County.

The Montgomery County Charter Commission, formed just two months ago to draft a charter that would significantly change the structure of county government, will hold its first public hearing Wednesday at 6:30 p.m.

“They’re aware of the tight deadline,” said County Planner Douglas Greene, who has assisted the commission. “They’ve been aggressive at their meetings and gotten a lot done.”

Currently the county is overseen by a 15-member Board of Supervisors. The supervisors created the Charter Commission, composed of 10 county citizens, in March to look into switching to a system of elected district legislators and one elected executive.

“Right now, the supervisors have two jobs to do,” Greene said. “They oversee the day-to-day operation of their towns, but they also have to make the best decision for the county.”

The dual-responsibility splits both the time and interests of the supervisors.

The new charter would create a smaller board, with one central leader to make decisions, but the commission only has until July 15 to deliver a finished charter to the Board of Supervisors.

The board can either reject the charter or accept it and forward it to a public referendum.

Wednesday’s hearing is to get a sense of what the community would support.

“We don’t want to write a referendum that is doomed to fail,” Greene said.

At Wednesday’s hearing, the commission will ask for public opinion on both the creation of an elected executive position and how electoral districts should be drawn.

“We still haven’t decided if we want seven districts, eight districts, or nine districts,” Commission Chairman Dustin Swanger said in a prepared statement. “We’re interested in the public’s feelings on how to draw the district lines.”

Greene has drawn up three county electoral district maps based on 2010 Census block groups, the smallest unit of measure used by the Census Bureau.

“The goal is to equalize these districts as closely as possible,” he said. “I started by bundling these census block groups to create districts with an average population.”

The resulting maps group associated towns and villages, like St. Johnsville and Minden, in one electoral district. Each map proposes a different division, specifically between areas in the city of Amsterdam.

The public hearing will take place at the new County Courthouse at 58 Broadway, Fonda.

For more information on the Charter Commission, meeting minutes and agendas, visit

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