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Ordinance Amendment Would Allow For Removal Of Board, Commission Members ‘For Cause’

Township Councilwoman Kimberly Francois led the effort in the ordinance amendment.

An ordinance amendment that would allow the Township Council to remove some board and commission members “for cause” was introduced at the May 28 Council meeting.

The amendment would give Council members more leeway in removing board and commission members than they now have.

Currently, a member of a board – such as the Open Space Advisory Committee or the Human Relations Commission – can only be removed if they miss half of the scheduled meetings within a one-year period.

The proposed amendment would allow for the their removal “for cause following notice to the member of the charges authorized by the Township Council by resolution,” according to the amendment.

“The member shall have the right to a hearing which will be before the Council Administration Standing Committee who shall make a recommendation to the Township Council,” the amendment reads. “The Council may accept or reject the Administration Standing Committee’s recommendation.”

A member may elect to not have a hearing, which would then bring the matter back to the Council for final disposition. The motion for removal would have to be approved by at least six Council members.

The amendment does not apply to members of commissions “subject to state statute guidelines for removal,” such as the Planning or Zoning Board, the Sewerage Authority, or the Historic Commission.

Mayor Phil Kramer said he added language to the amendment saying that members’ acts prior to the ordinance amendment becoming effective cannot be used to have them removed.

“Because we’re creating this now, we can’t go back in time and say hey, you did this a while ago, so we’re going to take action on it,” he said.

The ordinance amendment’s original language called for needing a “super majority” of Council members to approve removal, but township attorney Lou Rainone said that term needed to be quantified.

Mayor Phil Kramer said although the Council’s Administrative Committee suggested needing a two-thirds vote of the full Council, he would prefer to need seven “yes” votes.

Township Councilwoman Kimberly Francois said the two-thirds vote was decided upon by the Admin Committee because that is the margin needed to approve a bonding ordinance.

“I thought that was kind of comparable,” she said.

“I just thought that since this was an action on a particular person, I wanted to push it a little further,” Kramer said. “But I’m not going to argue with you.”

Township Manager Robert Vornlocker suggested that to avoid future confusion, the amendment should call for six votes rather than two-thirds of the council.

“To relieve yourselves of any problems or ambiguity in the future, just pick a number,” he said. “This council is not going to get bigger than nine. So just say six in the ordinance and then there’s never any confusion.”

“Six members must vote yes to remove,” he said. “If it says that, there can’t be any confusion in the future.”

The Second Reading and final vote on the ordinance amendment is set for the June 11 Council meeting.

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