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Election Coverage

Charter amendments: Know what you’re voting on, Part 1




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April 14, 2009 | 2173 views | Post a comment

Submitted by the Floresville Home Rule Charter Commission Advisory Committee

On May 9, registered voters in Floresville will be asked to vote for or against proposed changes to the home-rule charter. Each amendment proposal can be voted on individually.

Over the next few weeks, in a series of articles, these amendments will be discussed from the viewpoint of the Home Rule Charter Commission Advisory Committee, which recommended these changes and additions.

In 2008, the Floresville City Council voted to establish a charter-review commission to assess the charter and, if necessary, restate, update, or clarify ambiguous wording. The commission was established with 10 members from the original charter commission and five new members, each of whom was appointed by a city council member.

The charter-review commission -- over a period of nine weeks -- reviewed each section of the Floresville Home Rule Charter and concluded that seven sections of the charter needed to be revised for clarification and two sections needed to be added.

In this first article, three sections of the charter will be discussed that the commission considered needing revision for clarification. The sections concern the employment, responsibilities, and duties of the city manager.

Section 4.01 (b)

This section deals with the term and salary of the city manager. Concerning the city manager’s salary, the charter currently reads, “The City Manager shall receive compensation as may be fixed by the council.”

The commission agrees the wording should be changed to read, “The City Manager shall receive compensation as set by the City Council in an employment agreement not to exceed three years.”

This change may seem very minor, but the old language did not specify an employment agreement and a time period for such agreement. Had the city hired the last city manager with an employment agreement with a specified time period, rather than an employment contract, the city would not have suffered the additional compensation awarded to that city manager after he left that position.

Section 4.02

This section describes the position of the chief of police and his duties as related to the city manager. The original language in the charter says the police chief “shall be responsible to the city manager for the administration of his department and the carrying out of the directives of the city council and other duties conveyed by the City Manager or City Council.

In the revised amendment, the words “ ... council and other duties conveyed by the City Manager or City Council” have been deleted, setting out the chain of command, making the police chief answerable to only the city manager.

The original wording in the charter saddled the chief of police with possible multiple bosses, since it specified directives of the city council and other duties conveyed by both the city manager and members of the entire city council. In the changed language, the chief of police is responsible for enforcing the regulations and ordinances of the city, plus carrying out the directives of the city manager.

Section 9.10

While it is the city manager’s job to present a proposed budget to the city council in a timely manner, it is the council’s responsibility to refine, approve, and adopt the final budget in a timely manner.

This section currently reads “The budget shall be finally adopted not later than the twenty-seventh day of the last month of the fiscal year. Should the City Council take no final action on or prior to such day, the budget pro-posed by the City Manager shall go into effect.”

The revised wording of Section 9.10 would include renaming the section from “Date of final adoption, failure to adopt” to simply “Date of final adoption of budget.”

The section would then read, “The City Manager shall submit a proposal budget in accordance with sections 9.03, 9.04 and 9.05 at least 60 days prior to the end of the fiscal year. The City Council shall adopt an approved budget no less than 30 days prior to the end of the fiscal year.”

This change was made to simply put a structured order in the budget process that would allow the city manager and then the city council sufficient time to develop, discuss, and allow public review of the city budget. The city’s fiscal year ends on Sept. 30. All too often in past years, the city manager and the city council are forced to make budget decisions in the last days of September that should have been accomplished earlier. The delay has actually eliminated public review of the proposed budget.

The rewording of this section also would eliminate control of the budget by the city manager and put it solely in the hands of the city council. It will also allow for public review of the budget.

See charter amendments here:
http://www.wilsoncountynews.com/article.php?id=22962
 


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