The Legislature, by a vote of 12-2 (Legislators Mike Sigler and Jim Dennis voted no), scheduled a second public hearing on a Local Law to amend the County Charter. The proposed amendments result from more than two years of review by the special Charter Review Committee, and the latest revisions respond to wording changes recommended at the initial public hearing November 15th. The new hearing will be held at the Legislature’s next meeting on December 20th at 5:30 p.m. Charter Review Committee Chair Dooley Kiefer said changes made to the Department of Mental Health section revert to prior wording, which is consistent with the language in state law. A definition of “enterprise activity” (which applies to the self-supporting Airport and Solid Waste operations) was also added.
By a vote of 9-5, Legislators first approved a change in the recommended Charter language advanced by Legislator Will Burbank, which would maintain the parity of the Community Mental Health Services Board with the Board of Health regarding powers to appoint a commissioner. (Legislators Martha Robertson, Sigler, Dennis, Peter Stein, and Chair Michael Lane voted no.) Legislator Burbank said he believes such common powers are important in the current structure, where the Departments of Health and Mental Health report to one administrator.