Hagerstown City Council delays decision on campaign finance reporting

Additional discussion set for proposed amendment to adopt state election schedule

April 12, 2011|By KATE S. ALEXANDER |

The Hagerstown City Council has delayed until May a decision on whether it will require campaign finance reporting for future city elections.

The council met with representatives from the Washington County Board of Elections Tuesday to discuss proposed amendments to its charter that would reflect recent changes in the city's election process.

It scheduled additional discussion on the proposed charter amendments for May 3 to allow council members adequate time to consider the changes, including whether they want to require campaign finance reporting.  The council plans to vote on the issue on May 24.

Voters decided in a 2009 ballot question that they wanted the city to adopt the state election schedule, City Clerk Donna Spickler said.

Under that schedule, Hagerstown's elections would align with presidential elections, making the city's next primary April 3, 2012, and its next general election Nov. 6, 2012, she said.  

As the charter is written, the next city elections would fall in 2013, she said.

The proposed amendments would change the election dates to 2012 and every four years thereafter.

It would also delete references to the Hagerstown Election Board.

In the past, the city and county election boards worked together to conduct the off-year elections, she said.

With the new schedule, the county election board would conduct elections for city offices, effectively removing the need for a separate city election board, Spickler said.

While the county election board will run the primary and general election, it will not collect city campaign finance reports, Spickler said.

State election law does not require campaign finance reporting for municipalities, City Attorney William Nairn said.

It will be up to the mayor and council members to decide if they will require the reports and, if so, a reporting process, he said.

Nairn said he had information from half a dozen municipalities in the state that require campaign finance reporting.

Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II asked that he and the council be able to review that information before they discuss the subject further.

Councilman Martin Brubaker said he favors requiring reporting.

No other council members commented.

The proposed amendments also included changing the day council members take their oath of office to the third Monday following the election.

Councilman Lewis C. Metzner arrived to the work session after the discussion on the charter amendments had concluded.

Councilman Forrest W. Easton was absent.

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