Perryville addresses absenteeism at town meetings
jbellmyer@ cecilwhig. com
— In an effort to address absenteeism on the town board, the mayors and commissioners have added language to the town charter to encourage board members to miss fewer meetings.
The mayor and commissioners passed Charter Amendment 2016- 02 Tuesday night, which spells out how many meetings an elected official can miss and still stay on the board.
Failure to attend three consecutive town meetings in person or remotely, by approval, will result in expulsion, according to the language of the amendment, which passed unanimously.
“We’ve been over this many times,” said Mayor Jim Eberhardt, adding the move was “in direct response to not having a full board on many occasions.”
Former Commissioner Barbara Brown was absent from town meetings for over a year due to ill-
ness. Although she kept up with town business and attended several votes remotely, she informed the board her physical limitations kept her away. Brown said the ramp into Perr yville Town Hall had too steep a pitch for her to navigate.
Brown decided not to seek re- election in May after 14 years as a town commissioner.
Previously, the town charter gave the remaining board no way to respond to a fellow member’s frequent absence. But, according to the amendment, the remaining board can now take the action to remove the absent member.
The amendment reads that “upon motion approved by the affirmative vote of the majority of the remaining members of the mayor and commissioners, failing to attend three consecutive town meetings, in person or by authorized remote participation.” Absenteeism now becomes the fifth way an elected official can be removed from office along with death, resignation, ceasing to reside in Perr yville, and criminal conduct.
Commissioner Michelle Linkey noted the rule only applies to town meetings, not the monthly work session. The board approved the use of remote partici- pation last year, allowing the mayor or a commissioner to phone into the meeting for a specific discussion or vote.
Perryville Commissioner Michelle Linkey and Mayor Jim Eberhardt check the connection on the telephone at the September 2015 town meeting where then-Commissioner Barbara Brown took advantage of the town’s new remote participation rule.