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Alternate meter reader appointed

April 01, 2005|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

andrews@herald-mail.com

WILLIAMSPORT - In an emergency meeting, the Williamsport Town Council on Wednesday appointed a member of its street crew to be an alternate meter reader.

Clerk/Treasurer Bonnie J. Errico said the town council voted 5-0 to have Justin Hamilton fill in as meter reader when Larry Lewis can't do it. Assistant Mayor Monty R. Jones got to the meeting too late to vote, Errico said.

Errico said she and another employee at Town Hall have missed or will miss time for medical reasons, so Lewis will fill in as needed.

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If Lewis works at Town Hall, Hamilton will be the meter reader. Errico said the town council's designation on Wednesday gave Hamilton the authority to write parking tickets.

Errico said she was told to advertise the emergency meeting on a bulletin board at Town Hall.

Maryland's Open Meetings Act says a public body has choices for giving notice of a meeting.

"If the public body previously has given public notice that this method will be used," the body may give notice "by posting or depositing the notice at a convenient public location at or near the place of the session," the law says.

Notice also may be given "by delivery to representatives of the news media who regularly report on sessions of the public body" or "by any other reasonable method."

Maryland Assistant Attorney General William Varga said the Open Meetings Act is "pretty vague" on notification.

A reasonable attempt to quickly alert the public about a meeting seems to satisfy the law, he said.

The law also states that "whenever reasonable," a meeting notice shall be in writing and list the time, date and place of the session.

Varga said that requirement was included to discourage government bodies from only posting notices on cable TV or on the Internet, each of which exclude some people.

Mayor James G. McCleaf II could not be reached for comment Thursday, but in a phone message, he apologized for not alerting The Herald-Mail about the special meeting.

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