Charter panel not satisfied with ballot

By David Skolnick


Members of city council say the four proposed charter amendments on the ballot are a good start toward improving government.

But those who served on a committee that made 17 recommendations to council aren’t pleased that voters aren’t getting a chance to consider all 17 of the proposals.

“Many members of the charter-review commission remain disappointed that voters weren’t permitted by council to vote on all of the 17 recommendations,” said Scott Schulick, who served as vice chairman of the 11-member commission. “There are only four, and only one has impact. The ones with the greater impact were deferred. We’re hopeful that council or other citizens will place the other issues on the ballot in the future.”

Councilman John R. Swierz, D-7th, said the legislative body held off on some of the commission’s recommendations because of a then-pending evaluation of city government operations by the PFM Group. That report was released recently.

There are some recommendations in the report, such as consolidating and creating departments and creating a purchasing policy, that council will consider in future elections.

“We could do that the next time around,” he said. “We are all committed to looking at the rest of the charter amendments down the line.”

Councilman Nate Pinkard, D-3rd, said council will “look at some of the other things in the future” to place in front of voters “or do it legislatively” through council action.

The commission mem-bers were selected by city council and the mayor. Council has final say on what proposed amendments are to be considered by voters.

The proposed charter amendments are:

Creating a conflict-of- interest policy.

Changing the starting and ending dates of daylight saving time to be in compliance with the federal government. The city already follows the federal times even though the charter has the old dates.

Changing language regarding redistricting that requires it be done after “a reasonable population change.” But council members didn’t give a description of what that term means. There hasn’t been a redistricting of the city’s seven wards in more than 30 years. The current language states redistricting “may” occur after a decennial federal census.

Eliminating term limits for mayor. Currently, the mayor can serve two four-year elected terms and then sit out a term before running again.

The proposed amendment didn’t eliminate language from the current charter that reads: “The mayor will be eligible for election after an intervening term.”

That could imply that a mayor has to sit out a term before running again. But Law Director Anthony Farris said as the person in charge of interpreting the city charter that is not how he reads it.

“These are housekeeping things except the mayor’s term,” Swierz said of the four items on the ballot. “It’s a good start.”

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