Lovettsville mayor

Lovettsville Vice Mayor Chris Hornbaker, left, and Mayor Nate Fontaine, right, at a Town Council meeting on June 24.

After a public hearing and town council discussion on Dec. 16, a decision about whether or not to make changes to Lovettsville’s town charter has been delayed.

Several Lovettsville residents spoke at the public hearing in opposition to the proposed changes. Kris Consaul presented a letter signed by 50 residents who expressed concerns about the proposal.

Vice Mayor Chris Hornbaker — who spearheaded the proposal — proposed revising the charter’s language to remove the mayor’s veto power and to instead give the mayor voting power, which he does not currently have. In addition, other items include changing language from “councilman” to “councilmember” as well as other edits to align with the standards of local elections as set out by state code; and to clarify the authority of the mayor, council and town manager for appointed and non-appointed officers and clerical edits.

Several councilmembers suggested that residents should have an opportunity to vote on the changes in a referendum. Even so, any changes that are made to the charter would require approval from the Virginia General Assembly.

Hornbaker urged councilmembers to support the changes and said he believed the current structure of government is not in line with how other local governments operate.

Councilwoman Renee Edmonston said she has given the issue a great deal of thought and said she would prefer to delay a vote until after there has been more discussion and agreement among the council members.

Councilmen Buchanan Smith and David Earl also spoke in support of delaying a decision and said he would not oppose putting the changes to a referendum.

“I do not see why we need to make a decision on this tonight,” Earl said. “It is important to spend more time thinking about this. Why are we in such a hurry? I don’t understand what the urgency is.”

However, Councilwoman Joy Pritz said she supported Hornbaker and agreed that the charter should be revised.

“My gut is to go with changing it to allow the mayor the right to vote and to not have veto power. Going with my gut is the right thing to do,” she said.

Mayor Nate Fontaine said he would like to spend more time discussing the potential changes to the town’s charter.

“We heard very strongly this evening that the public would like more time and I think additional time is needed,” he said.

In the end, the motion to postpone a decision passed 3-2-1 with Edmonston, Earl and Smith voting in support of the motion, and Councilman Quintana absent for the vote.

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