Spencer votes to abolish committees

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 11, 2012

By Karissa Minn
SPENCER — The Spencer Town Board of Aldermen voted Tuesday to do away with its standing committees.
Mayor Jody Everhart said that when the town changed its form of government from mayor-council to council-manager in 2010, many of the board’s responsibilities shifted to the town manager.
Since then, the committees haven’t met as often, and Everhart declined to nominate new committee members after the 2011 elections. He said the two or three aldermen on each committee tend to repeat staff presentations to the board from their own viewpoints.
“If it’s something the board needs to make a decision on, then I could see each of the board members being at the presentation instead of just three committee members,” Everhart said.
Alderman Reid Walters said he didn’t like the idea at first, but it makes sense.
“Whatever happens, all seven of us are going to discuss it, regardless of there being a committee meeting or not,”
Walters said.
Alderman Jeff Morris agreed and made the motion to eliminate the standing committees, saying ad hoc committees could be appointed if necessary as issues arise.
“We have no need for a filter or spokesperson to give information secondhand,” Morris said.
Also Tuesday, aldermen adopted a new version of the town’s Youth Protection Ordinance that keeps it from expiring annually.
For children and teenagers younger than 16 years old, the ordinance sets a curfew of 11 p.m.-6 a.m. Sunday through Thursday and 12-6 a.m. Friday and Saturday.
During these hours, children and teenagers younger than 16 years old are not allowed in any public place or “establishment within the town” without a guardian. Exceptions are provided for travel to and from emergencies, work, school events, religious events and certain other activities.
The ordinance was originally adopted in 2003 and renewed for one year in 2004, but it lapsed as the town failed to continue renewing it annually.
Police have continued to enforce it since then, said Chief Michael James, but they haven’t needed to very often. James said the ordinance is important because it reduces gang activity and protects the welfare of the public.

In other action
Also at Tuesday’s meeting, Spencer aldermen:
• Authorized the purchase of up to $6,000 fire department radio accessories, including 12 collar microphones with a safety strobe light, 12 extra batteries and four vehicle chargers.
Rowan County is buying new Motorola radios at a discounted price for firefighters in the county and its municipalities. Fire Chief Gray Grubb said these accessories are needed for the department to use the 12 replacement radios Spencer will receive.
The town would need 22 of the new radios to have one on every fire truck, Grubb said, but grant money may be available to purchase more by March.
• Set the board’s planning retreat for 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 4 at the Spencer Fire Department.
At the suggestion of Alderman Jeff Morris, the board voted to eliminate the usual Friday night session where department heads make presentations. Aldermen agreed that the department heads can present to the board at budget time and work directly with the town manager until then.
Members of the public who want to make their own presentations Saturday can submit requests to the mayor.
• Certified the annual firemen’s roster to be sent to the N.C. State Firemen’s Association.