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Spencer sets public hearing to discuss staggered, four-year terms for town board members

SPENCER — The town wants to hear from voters about revising the terms for its Board of Aldermen.

The board is considering modifying the length of terms from the 2023 election onward from two years to four and staggering them. The three highest vote-getters and the mayor would be elected to four-year terms in 2023, with the remaining three seats on the board serving two-year terms for that cycle. Winners of election from the year 2025 onward would have a four-year term.

The board has scheduled a public hearing on the issue for Aug. 5 with the intention of putting the issue up for a referendum in November rather than approving it via board vote.

The change aims to put the town in line with the way other elections award terms. Currently, members serve two-year terms, with all seats on the ballot at the same time. The last board elections in 2019 resulted in Sharon Hovis as the only returning board member from the previous body. A concern from the board is completely changing the town’s leadership every two years could create problems with consistency in the future.

The change would not affect the current terms of any board members or their terms if reelected this year.

The board discussed considering a change last month with town attorney Jay Dees, who gave the board an outline of what they could do, noting staggering is a common practice. The board came to a consensus that the decision should be voted on via referendum rather than approved internally.

During Monday’s regular meeting, Mayor Jonathan Williams said he’s received feedback from residents that they’re interested in the change.

In other news from the meeting:

• The board agreed to accepted more than $1 million in federal American Rescue Plan funds. Town Manager Peter Franzese said towns have been told to agree to receive the funds and wait for further guidance from the state on how the funding can be spent. The funding is part of billions in federal COVID-19 relief set aside for municipalities as part of the rescue plan.

• The town approved a change order to the municipal complex project at Park Plaza. The order includes additional corrective work to the roof and curbing for about $22,000 in additional funding. The project now has about $52,000 left in its contingency fund for the project.

• The town is close to completing its new website and is in the process of securing old domain redirects so traffic will pass through the new spencernc.gov address. The address currently shows a “coming soon” page.

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