Bath Board of Supervisors considers creating staggered terms
The Bath Board of Supervisors is considering staggered terms. But at Tuesday night’s monthly meeting, following discussion on the issue, the board tabled action until next month on a proposed public hearing.
County Administrator Ashton Harrison had prepared a draft notice for a public hearing on a proposed ordinance to create staggered terms for both the board of supervisors and the school board. But County Attorney Mike Collins said the law is vague about setting staggered terms for the school board and he said he wants to get clarification to see if the school board needs to take action on it or if the supervisors can do it.
Staggered terms are being considered in Bath because during the last general election both the school board and the board of supervisors were filled with all new members. The creation of staggered terms can be done either by a county ordinance, which the board of supervisors would vote on, or a referendum, that the public would vote on.
During discussion Supervisor Claire Collins said the majority of people she’s talked to would like the decision on staggered terms to come from a vote of the people. She also said she would support input from the public on the discussion of staggered terms, instead of a public hearing on a proposed ordinance. Supervisor Bart Perdue said he would like to see it on the ballot. Supervisor Cliff Gilchrest said he wanted to hear from people about it and that holding the public hearing on a proposed ordinance wouldn’t mandate the board to do anything. He also said he was not opposed to a referendum.
County Administrator Ashton Harrison suggested tabling the issue until the board’s August meeting, since the county attorney is going to do more research. Harrison said if there’s a public hearing on a proposed ordinance he would rather have the language in the ordinance correct before the hearing, so the public knows what is being considered. And he said new language in the proposed ordinance may have to be drafted depending on what the county attorney finds in his research. Supervisor Gilchrest agreed saying he wants to make sure language doesn’t have to be altered at the public hearing.
Supervisor Kevin Fry had made a motion to set the public hearing for the board’s September meeting, but agreed to withdraw it following the discussion about the research and possible changes in language. He said he still wanted the board to move ahead on the issue of staggered terms and he said the public hearing would bring out people’s opinions on it.