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City charter committee set to meet Tuesday

December 6, 2010

City charter committee set to meet Tuesday

Big Spring city officials will look to move forward with a possible election in May to revise the municipality's charter — including the addition of term limits and initiatives and referendums — Tuesday, as the charter review committee meets Tuesday evening.
Brought to the Big Spring City Council by newly elected Mayor Tommy Duncan, the city staff has been asked to research the possible use of term limits, initiatives and referendums in the Crossroads area.
The term limits would prevent elected council members and mayors from serving more than two consecutive terms in office, according to preliminary plans set forth by Duncan.
“What I'd like to see is a term limit imposed on the mayor starting this past May, and term limits imposed on the council members the next election after that charter amendment. That way every council member sitting on the council now will have a full two term opportunity to serve. After a council person or a mayor serves two terms, if they sit out two terms they will be eligible to run again and serve two more terms.”
Duncan has also called for the addition of initiatives and referendums to the city's charter.
According to City Attorney Linda Sjogren, adding initiatives to the charter would allow the registered voters of the city to have the power to propose ordinances to the council and, if the council fails to adopt an ordinance so proposed without any change in substance, to adopt or reject it at a city election. However, the initiative power doesn't extend to the budget or capital program or any ordinance relating to the appropriation of money, levy of taxes or salaries of city officers or employees.
Sjogren said referendums give registered voters of the city the power to require reconsideration by the council of any adopted ordinance and, if the council fails to repeal an ordinance that has been reconsidered, to approve or reject it at a city election. Like initiatives, however, referendums do not apply to the budget or capital program or any emergency ordinance or ordinance relating to appropriation of money or levy of taxes.
All three of these actions begin with a citizen petition to the governing body, and all three can lead to a vote by the people, she added.
“An initiative petition asks the city council to act on a specific issue when it has not done so previously. If the petition is valid, the council must adopt it or submit it to a vote of the people,” Sjogren explained. “Petitioners welcome council adoption, which is faster.
“A referendum petition asks the city council to reverse an action already taken or proposed. The council can rescind the ordinance or submit it to a vote of the people. A recall petition asks the city council to call an election for a vote on removal of one or more council members from office. If the targeted officials resign, an election is unnecessary.”
Tuesday's meeting is expected to get under way at 5:30 p.m. in the City Council Chambers, located at 307 E. Fourth Street.

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