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February 13, 2013

Charter committee presents recommendations

GREENVILLE — The Citizens Charter Review Committee presented its proposed changes to the City of Greenville’s government document — more than two dozen of them — during Tuesday’s City Council meeting.

The Council will decide in two weeks which of the recommendations will be included on the May 11 municipal election ballot.

Mayor Steve Reid said he was impressed by the work of chairman David Dreiling and the six other members of the committee, that they were able to complete an entire review of the Charter in less than a month.

“I told David I didn’t think he could do it, and I guess he took it as a personal challenge,” Reid said.

Many of the committee’s recommendations involve minor changes in language included in the current Charter, such as indicating “Municipal Judge” where the Charter now says “City Judge.”

Even so, City Secretary Debra Newell said she and City Attorney Daniel Ray will have their work cut out for them in drafting the propositions.

“There would be 29 propositions, which is a lot,” Newell said, adding the Council would have to vote on whether to add the propositions to the ballot during the February 26 regular session. “I have to get all of this translated into Spanish, too.”

The committee began meeting January 16, to conduct a review of the document which regulates how the City of Greenville operates.

The Charter is the document which contains the rules and regulations governing how the Council, the city administration and related agencies do business.

State law allows the charter to be amended every two years and to also reflect changes in state law if needed.

The last Charter review resulted in an election in May 2010 during which Greenville’s registered voters passed all 13 proposed amendments on the ballot.

Among the proposed changes is the addition of a new section, “General Definitions” to the Charter, which would specify that in terms of voting, a majority of the Council would be four out of the seven members, a “simple majority” would mean one more than half of the Council members present during a meeting and a “super majority” would be five of seven Council members.

Under the proposed Charter, it would take a majority vote of the Council to remove the City Manager, City Secretary, City Attorney or Municipal Judge.

The Council voted in April of last year to amend the employment agreement of City Manager Steven Alexander to where it will take five members of the Council, rather than four, to terminate the contract.

“Everybody should be treated exactly the same,” Dreiling said.

The committee also recommended specifying that the City Attorney does not serve as the attorney of record for the Board of Development or GEUS, that each year’s budget can be passed by a simple majority vote, extending the period under which citizens can file for a referendum vote from 30 days to six months after the passage of an ordinance and allowing members of the GEUS board to live outside of the city limits of Greenville.

Dreiling also noted the committee wanted to change a section of the Charter, which prevents anyone who is ‘in arrears” to the City of Greenville from serving in a paid position with the city. The committee believed the rule should apply to anyone serving on any city board or commission, paid or not.

“If they are in arrears, we think there is a problem in accepting and appointing them,” Dreiling said.

Council member Dan Perkins wondered if that would apply to anyone who may fall behind on their utility bills.

Newell said the provision in the Charter is only applied when considering the initial appointment of an individual.

“We would have no mechanism to check every one of you every month,” Newell said.

A complete copy of the current Charter is available on the City of Greenville Web site at www.ci.greenville.tx.us.

 

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