Williamston to move forward on change of government effort

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In a 3-2 vote, and after considerable discussion, Williamston Town Council voted Monday to move forward with a Change in the Form of Government referendum.

Councilmembers Rockey Burgess, David Harvell and Otis Scott voted in favor of a motion made by Scott to proceed with the referendum vote on the issue. Councilman Tony Hagood and Mayor Mack Durham were opposed.

Mayor Durham said he wanted to continue under the current form of government and listed a number of projects, initiatives and achievements that have come about since he was elected under the strong mayor form of government.

He also said that communications have improved and that he has made an extra effort to inform council on issues.

Councilman Scott agreed that communication has been better lately, however he stated that he has concerns that the mayor will “go right back just like before”, just as he did when the issue was raised last August.

“I want to bring it before council to let them decided and then for the public to decide,” Scott said.

Mayor Durham expressed concerns that certain councilmembers were pushing the effort through in a hurry and that a special election would not allow a turnout by voters that would be a true representation.

Councilman Burgess stated he would like to have a resolution stating exactly what intentions of council are if the referendum is held and voters decide to change the form of government.

Burgess has stated on several occasions that he doesn’t want five members of council running the day to day operations of the town but would like to have clarifications.

He also stated that he wants the mayor to continue running the town but wants him to be accountable to council.

Burgess also expressed concerns about previous plans and new plans, such as the comprehensive plan the town is undertaking, being set aside or shelved when a new mayor comes in.

The referendum vote will be held on Tuesday, June 9.

Council also approved funding for three new wayfinding signs, toddler playground installation, a one time reduction in Revive Church rent and changes in wrecker fees.

More details from Monday night’s council meeting will be in this week’s Journal.