Citizens to review city charter
The City Council will form a citizens committee to review the city charter for changes and set the guidelines for that committee later this month, a decision that came Tuesday on a split council vote.
Council members had been acting on a recommendation that first surfaced in late January, when Ward 5 Councilman Dwight Tanner asked the council to allow voters to consider a charter change to give the council the power to set residency requirements for city employees. Other council members acknowledged the proposal, but expanded the idea to look at the entire charter and other proposals that might be offered by others in the community, a review process used in past years to establish the proposals that are, in turn, submitted to the public for a decision. Under the terms of the charter (city government's guiding document), only citizens have the power to amend the charter.
The council's only authority in the process is deciding which proposals will be submitted to voters for consideration.
That role caused a 4-4 split among council members Tuesday, prompting Mayor Fred Fitch to break the tie in favor of the four council members who want to set a citizens review committee for the process. Other council members, including Tanner, want to use the council itself as the review body and open those meetings to the general public for comment and suggestions. Voting with Tanner were Ward 3 Councilman Caleb Davis, Ward 6 Councilman Sean Fortenbaugh and Ward 7 Councilwoman Onreka Johnson. Fitch joined with Ward 1 Councilman Robert Morford, Ward 2 Councilman Keith Jackson, Ward 4 Councilman Jay Burk and Ward 8 Councilman Randy Warren on the citizens review committee.
The process decided by the 5-4 vote created a 9-member citizens review committee, to be comprised of one resident representing each council ward (each appointed by their council representative) and a citywide appointment made by the mayor. Under the terms of Tuesday's decision, council members and Fitch will return to the Feb. 27 meeting with the names of the citizens they want to represent them, and with guidelines under which the committee will operate.