Institute helps Manchester in revising town charter

January 27, 1994|By Katherine Richards | Katherine Richards,Staff Writer

The Institute for Governmental Service of the University of Maryland is working with the town of Manchester on revisions to the town charter and the town code.

The institute helps governments throughout the state with applied research and consulting, said institute Director Barbara S. Hawk.

The town is paying the institute $500 for work to update its charter and $800 for work to revise the town code, plus expenses.

On Dec. 13, Ms. Hawk sent Town Manager Terry Short a first draft of a revised charter, containing the institute's preliminary recommendations and some ideas from the town staff.

The draft will continue to change, Ms. Hawk said in an interview yesterday. "There will probably be six or seven versions," she said.

The institute recommended deleting the description of the town's boundaries from the charter. Instead, the charter would refer to an official description of the boundaries, as maintained in town files.

Removing the boundary description would shorten the charter by 50 pages, Ms. Hawk said. Also, the change would mean the town would not have to amend the charter every time it annexes a piece of land.

The first draft of the revised charter also incorporates earlier charter amendments into the document.

Other changes made in the first draft include:

* Eliminating sexist language. For example, "councilmen" is changed to "council members."

Also, the draft deletes Section 6-15 on "Women," which guarantees voting and office-holding rights for women. This section is now redundant, Ms. Hawk said.

* Requiring council members to maintain a permanent residence in town during the term of office.

* Reducing the length of the residence requirement for eligibility to vote in town elections from six months to 30 days.

* Deleting a clause giving the council the power to place a curfew on minors.

"Courts have not sustained those as being defensible," Ms. Hawk said.

* Eliminating a rule forbidding candidates for public office from continuing to serve as officers or classified employees of the town.

* Deleting a rule forbidding the town's classified employees from making contributions to political campaigns or managing political campaigns. "That's not legal any more," Ms. Hawk said.

The Town Council is set to consider the suggested charter revisions. The council may make additional recommendations. The time frame for the project will depend largely upon the Town Council, Ms. Hawk said.

After the charter revisions are finished, the institute and the Town Council are expected to start revising the town code.

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