, 2014

Kilmarnock to conduct
hearing on proposed
changes to town charter

by Audrey Thomasson

KILMARNOCK—At Monday’s town council meeting, residents will have the opportunity to comment on whether the town charter should continue to include several obsolete provisions such as those regulating the storage of gunpowder.

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Council meets at 7 p.m. in the town hall.

Council is proposing updates to the Kilmarnock Town Charter to reflect changes in Virginia law, conform to current standards and clarify provisions, according to assistant town manager Susan Cockrell.

“As long as I have been town attorney I’ve advocated for bringing the charter up to date in the real world,” said Chris Stamm, council’s legal advisor.

Stamm said the revisions are all “tried and true” because they were borrowed from the charters of other towns to ensure they meet the legal requirements of the state.

Some items targeted for removal include town authority to:

• Weigh or measure oil, coal, or other articles for sale and regulate transportation of such materials.

• Provide a prison and workhouse and employ physicians, nurses, servants and manager to regulate and discipline.

• Restrain and punish drunkards, vagrants and street beggars...suppress houses of ill fame and gambling...and expel people who engage in such behavior from living in town.

• Regulate the sale of kerosene oil, nitroglycerine, camphene, burning fluid and other combustible materials.

The most substantive change proposed is a clarification of duties involving the positions of mayor and town manager.

According to Cockrell, the position of town manager was added to the charter about 15 years ago, although the town had hired a town manager some five years earlier. During the process of converting to a town council/town manager form of government, mayoral duties were duplicated rather than transferred to the town manager in the charter. At that time, council handled the changes by resolution.

“In the 1990s council passed a resolution that spelled out the roles of the town manager and mayor. The changes will incorporate those provisions into the charter,” said Cockrell. “This is a process that the administration and finance committee initiated and embarked on beginning in August with the help of legal council. The committee consists of council members William Smith, Shawn Donahue, Rebecca Nunn and Howard Straughan with input from Mayor Raymond Booth. It was discussed at the October council meeting in preparation for a public hearing.”

Once approved, the charter will go before the General Assembly for approval.

A copy of the town charter, with changes highlighted, may be viewed at the town hall or at kilmarnockva.com.

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