During the next few weeks, the City Council will be debating various proposed amendments to the City charter.
It is possible that these proposals could be submitted to an independent citizens’ review commission before the Council decides on a final list and a public vote is taken.
This list summarizes the major proposals the Council is considering.
• Adjustments to pay for Council members. There were eight variations on this proposal submitted by Council members. The proposals would have the effect of increasing the pay of Council members from approximately $3,500 per year to a range of $15,000-$100,000.
• Allow Council members to hire their own staff. Currently, each Council member has an assistant and shares a secretary with another Council member. These proposals would allow Council members to interview and select their staff members, rather than have staff members hired and fired by the city manager’s office. Many Council members express concern that our staff members are loyal to the manager and operate under the manager’s guidelines, rather than paying attention to the priorities of the Council members.
• Authorize the mayor to hire and fire the city manager. This proposal would give the mayor greater power in establishing his or her agenda.
• Allow a Council member to run for another office while retaining his or her Council seat. Currently, a Council member must resign from office the moment he or she files to run for another office. This proposal would require a member to relinquish the Council seat only after he or she won the Democratic or Republican primary election.
• Park and Recreation Department supervision. The Park Department is currently autonomous, reporting only to the Park Board. The responsibility for this department would be moved to the city manager.
• Allow the mayor to veto policy decisions by the Council, but give the Council a two-thirds override provision. The mayor currently has only one of 15 votes on the Council and has no ability to override or veto any Council decisions.
• Provide an assistant city manager for each of the 14 Council districts. There are currently five assistant city managers and one first assistant city manager with responsibilities for various operating departments.
• Increase the number of Civil Service Board appointees from 20 to 30. Under this provision, each Council member would have two appointees to the board.
• Modify appointments to the Employees’ Retirement Fund Board or the Police and Fire Pension Board. Prohibit persons from serving on either board if they are members or recipients of either plan.
• Allow the city attorney to discharge any assistant city attorney. Currently, the Council must consent to the discharge of an assistant city attorney.
I’m interested in your opinions about these issues. Please contact me at my Council office with your thoughts.
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