SPRING LAKE - The Spring Lake Board of Aldermen on Monday night discussed changing the mayor’s voting authority but took no action.
Mayor Kia Anthony initiated the discussion by stating that the mayor “does not have the authority to contribute to the votes pertaining to the business of the town.” She said she believes this should change and that she deserves to be held accountable for the decisions made for the town and for any resources she brings to the town.
“There’s a plethora of resources that I would love to bring to this board, but I can’t because I can’t be held accountable,” Anthony said.
Currently, the mayor is only allowed to vote when there is a tie.
Mayor Pro Tem Robyn Chadwick disagreed with changing the town charter to allow the mayor to vote outside a tiebreaking scenario and added that accountability does not come with the vote.
“I agree you should be held accountable; however, I am not in favor of the mayor having a vote because I have seen where it can be persuasive and lead to an abuse of power,’’ Chadwick said. “I think with the size of our town, I don’t think it’s warranted. We have a good enough board where we will hold you accountable to what needs to be done on this board, so honestly, I’m not in favor.”
Alderman Marvin Lackman also said he disagreed with the mayor being given a vote citing Robert’s Rules of Order. He asked the board to keep more pressing matters a priority. The Local Government Commission took over the town’s finances in October due to budget deficits, and the town has several investigations pending into missing money.
“As we look at this, we currently have five board members and Robert’s Rules of Order does allow for a clear decision for when we do vote. If the mayor was approved making it six votes and it leads to a tie, it will just not work that well,’’ Lackman said. “With everything going on in the town, I think we should concentrate on the issues at hand rather than a vote for you.”
Alderwoman Sona Cooper said she had done her research and asked that it be brought to residents for a vote.
“We can start by going to the people, see what they feel about it and move from there,” Cooper said.
Town Attorney Jonathan Charleston said there could be an option for a referendum on the issue.
Anthony asked Charleston to look into possible options and present them at a future meeting.
The board also added to its agenda discussion on a town charter change looking at four-year staggered terms for the Board of Aldermen. The issue has been brought up by previous boards.
“This is just for discussion to see how everyone feels about it,” said Cooper, referencing information sent to board members by email this week outside of the agenda packet. “Running for office every two years can be a little much, and we don’t really have a lot of time to get anything done.”
Anthony agreed with Cooper on the idea of four-year staggered terms, saying she has one year to work and one year to campaign within her two years.
Lackman said the campaigning came from their results.
“I want to hear from the people on this. We serve for two years, and the campaigning is seeing our results. Our results are how you decide if we are worthy to serve for you,” Lackman said. “I’ve seen this brought up in the past by a fellow board member and when I was sitting in the audience, I didn’t go for it. I didn’t like the way it sounded so this is your opportunity to speak.”
All board members except Cooper are serving their first terms in office.
In other discussion, the board approved a resolution to support the stormwater program and voted to table pending applications to the town committees. The board asked for a review of town committees, including bylaws, and to be able to provide an orientation for committee members.
The board also decided to hold a meeting Feb. 14, which was on the agenda to decide whether to hold a meeting on Valentine's Day.
The board was in closed session for 50 minutes citing the N.C. general statute for personnel. The board adjourned immediately after coming back to open session with no further action taken.