I just got off the phone with the town attorney, Chip Hewett. Earlier, I had left him a voice mail inquiring as to the issues I had written about on this blog, and he returned my call today. He told me that the issue had recently been investigated, since someone else had also asked the same question at about the time of transfer of power to the new mayor.
Apparently, the statutes I quoted are accurate. However, the town charter makes provision that the mayor is a full voting member of the council in addition to presiding over the council. That is the key difference in this case. Other towns in this area do not have this provision, so Clayton and Smithfield, among others are set up that the mayor only presides over the council and can only vote in the event of a tie. Since the mayor in Selma, by charter, is a full voting member, he can also vote at any time along with the other council members.
Apparently, the charter is silent on the ability of the mayor to make motions. The opinion of The North Carolina League of Municipalities is that if the mayor is a "full voting member" but the charter is silent on "motions", then the mayor should have the ability just as other full members.
Sec. 2.3. Mayor; Term of Office; Duties.
The mayor shall be elected by all the qualified voters of the Town for a term of two (2) years or until his or her successor is elected and qualified. The Mayor shall be the official head of the Town government and preside at meetings of the Council, shall have the right to vote on all matters before the Council, and shall exercise the powers and duties conferred by law or as directed by the Council.
IF this is the case, then I am fine with things happening as they are with Mayor Hester. My concern was for things being done properly in Selma and not open up our town for issues of liability/illegality.
Since this is not something that I have read anywhere else, I will assume that most readers of this blog have not had knowledge of all of this, either. Well, now it is made public somewhere.
I am glad that this is the case, since it means that things have not been done illegally at council meetings. Figures that Selma is the oddball in local governments. After all, I live here.