homepage logo

Council mulls proposed charter changes

By Staff | May 9, 2011

It’s unclear what charter amendments may make it onto the ballot in November, as city council neither wholly endorsed nor decried the work of the charter review commission on Monday night.
Instead, officials went through the proposed changes individually, adding and subtracting what they thought would make sense to citizens, and voters, come November, when people could be asked to support a $10,000 pay raise for council members and the mayor for 2013, among other items.
Councilmember Bill Deile said that issue alone should be enough to entice voters and get them out to the polls.
“If nothing else, it’s going to bring people out to vote,” Deile said of the proposed change in the methodology used to determine council compensation. “Maybe the only justification for putting that on the ballot is it’s a lightning-rod issue. It will get people to the polls.”
Yet Deile didn’t think the pay raise for council members was proper, especially given the recent decrease agreed to by the city’s blue collar workforce.
A council pay increase would occur if voters opt to base council compensation on the population, not the number of registered voters, one of two proposed compensation options proposed by the Charter Review Commission.
“I personally felt it was a little much,” Deile said of the proposed change. “We have a population decline, we have seen a revenue decline, we ask our workers to work harder with less and at the same time take a salary cut — to make us immune from that, when asking them to sacrifice, (is unfair).”
Councilmember Chris Chulakes-Leetz, who wanted a meeting to deal with the charter changes specifically, thought “creating” voter turnout by placing something on the ballot would be irresponsible as a council.
Chulakes-Leetz called the discussion — which went over two hours — unprofessional.
“I don’t believe going through all of this is going to be productive or resolve what we want to bring to voters,” he said. “I don’t know why we’re trying to ram this through in an unprofessional manner.”
Councilmember Kevin McGrail said it would be important not to overwhelm voters in November with too many proposed charter amendments, adding that three, maybe four, changes would be suitable for voters to decide.
Mayor John Sullivan said voters will be smart enough to digest the charter amendments before them, should council decide to put some of the issues on the ballot, and it was important for voters to stay informed and educated as they head to the polls.
He said city council had no faith in voters.
“I think the people that live in this city are smart enough to realize this is extremely important,” Sullivan said. “They’re going to look at these options and do the best they can, especially if we clarify it so everyone understands.”
The mayor also said he’d like to see the charter amended so that city council has the right to terminate police officers should they find themselves in some sort of administrative trouble.