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Commission to review city charter

January 10, 2007|by JENNIFER FITCH

The Hagerstown City Council took its first steps toward the review and possible amendment of the City Charter on Tuesday, deciding that eight people will form a commission to review the charter in its entirety.

Council members Kelly S. Cromer and Lewis C. Metzner will join the panel. The mayor and council members each will appoint one person to fill a seat.

While ultimately making appointments, the mayor and council will accept applications for an eligibility list over the next 30 days. Applicants, who should contact the City Clerk's office, must be residents of the City of Hagerstown.

The charter covers a number of topics, including powers of the mayor and council, midyear budget amendments and the city's abilities when acquiring properties.

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Topics for consideration posed by City Administrator Bruce Zimmerman in a memo included whether a person convicted of a crime should be able to hold elected office, duration of membership with a political party before running for office and the timing of administering the oath of office to newly elected administrations.

Other considerations would be, for example, guidelines for what to do if an elected official becomes physically incapacitated, Metzner said.

Talk of charter reform came from "things that hit us square in the face during this administration," Metzner said.

Any amendments to the City Charter would go before the City Council for a vote.

Metzner, who admitted it will be a time-consuming process, recommended a citizens committee, saying citizens are the ones who originally developed the charter.

Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II favored an eight-member commission, saying that "it's small enough to keep it controlled and big enough to get great ideas."

The council agreed to make appointments in two months.

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