We have skipped the more tedious details of Monday’s Admin & Finance meeting and decided to cut to the chase and discuss the “lame duck” council concept that can potentially befall a municipality in an election year.
For a quick review, a “lame duck” council is one where less than 3/4 of the current council is returning and thus is restricted from certain activities such as acquisition or disposal of assets over a certain monetary threshold and/or the firing of Town Officers.
As it stands with the list of unofficial candidates, the current Council would be in a lame duck position as the most of the incumbents have not yet filed. As an aside, it is often a strategy of incumbents to let the roster fill up with regular citizens seeking election (to induce vote splitting) before putting their name into the hat.
According to discussion at A&F by Town Manager, a lame duck Council can be determined at two times, the first is at the close of nominations if less than 3/4 of incumbents did not file for re-election and the second would be once the election results have been certified and 3/4 of incumbents have not been returned to their seats.
The occurrence of a lame duck council, although rare, can present unusual challenges for the administration of the municipality in that as the outgoing council’s powers are limited, they may not be able to make crucial decisions. If such decision-making is delegated to Staff and Directors before a lame duck council is declared, it will let the Town be better equipped to handle “unknown” or “unforeseen” scenarios that a lame duck council would legally be unable to handle directly.
Nominations will close and be certified on July 30. With one Council meeting remaining before that date, Council will most likely have to delegate authority to various Staff in the event that the nominations reveal the existence of a lame duck council. If after nominations close, more than 3/4 of the incumbents have filed and are re-certified as candidates then there is no lame duck Council between then and election day.