Absence of council members stalls Sykesville's municipal government

Failure to reach quorum prevents town leaders from doing business

June 28, 2000|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

For want of a quorum at a Town Council meeting Monday, Sykesville has no cable TV contract, no new dump truck and vacancies on several key committees.

All official business must wait for the next council session July 10, provided that at least four members of the six-member council are in attendance. Mayor Jonathan S. Herman had his gavel ready, but even if he could have opened the meeting, he could not make a motion to adjourn.

Herman broke his record for brevity, chairing a council session that never was. Illness and conflicts with work and vacation schedules kept four council members from the meeting, the only session scheduled for this month. The lack of a quorum made any official discussion illegal and prevented any official action. What promised to be a hefty agenda, with at least a dozen items of business, fizzled within minutes.

The Town Charter requires the presence of at least four of the six-member council to conduct municipal affairs. Without a quorum, Herman could not make appointments, enact a proposed ordinance or review several bids for a new dump truck.

Michael Burgoyne and Charlie Mullins had taken their places at the council table, but their colleagues' seats remained empty. Councilwomen Debby Ellis and Jeannie Nichols were out of town. Council President Eugene Johnson had taken ill and Councilman Bill Hall, a Baltimore firefighter, had pulled night duty at the firehouse.

The mayor, who ordinarily plows through the council agenda with what he calls lightning speed, had time on his hands. He offered to talk about anything with the few residents in the audience.

Meetings are scheduled for the second and fourth Mondays of the month. No meeting was scheduled for the first Monday in June because of the Maryland Municipal League convention. Lack of a quorum is a rarity in Sykesville. The last instance anyone could recall happened about seven years ago.

The mayor announced a meeting on downtown revitalization at 7 p.m. July 6 at St. Paul's United Methodist Church on Main Street. At least a dozen volunteers have expressed interest in working on the Main Street Task Force, but, without a council to approve the committee, Herman could not appoint one.

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