Charter review

Charter Review Committee Member Mike Heath and others are reviewing the city’s charter for possible placement of changes on the November ballot.

In October, Peoria City Council approved the formation of a citizen committee to comb through the City’s Charter and recommend updates or changes. The City Charter was adopted in 1983 and establishes the roles of governance for the city. A comprehensive citizen review has not been conducted since 1992.

Three meetings have been held. The committee has managed to get through Articles I, II and III so far. Former City Manager Ellis had hoped to get through Articles I through V at the second meeting, but after three hours, the committee had managed to cover Articles I through III only.

At the second meeting, committee members were told by Tammy Shreeve, coordinator for the charter review, they would be looking at a charter from the 1980s. It has remained virtually the same for more than 30 years. During the meeting, Shreeve also reminded the committee members that if they change one word, an entire section must appear on the ballot.

Once the review began, one word change was proposed for Article I, Section 1. Instead of inhabitants, one member suggested it be changed to residents. A motion was made, seconded and approved.

In Section 2, dealing with the city’s council/manager form of government, Shreeve said city staff did not have any suggested changes. Staff had been told that particular section was “out of bounds.”

Assistant City Attorney Steve Burg told the committee the last sentence in that section states that all powers of the city are prescribed in the charter, and if not prescribed are by ordinance. Repeated over and over was the statement that powers not given to the state in its constitution were left to the cities.

In Section 3, regarding powers of the city dealing with acquisition of property, floodplains, zoning/land use, it was suggested the term General Plan replace Comprehensive Plan. A motion was made, seconded and approved to change the wording to conform to common usage today.

There were no suggested changes for Section 4 through 14.

In Section 15, regarding city contracts and agreements, the committee approved a wording change to strike the word Indian and replace it with Tribal council.

Article II was next. One item in particular garnered interest from the members. Peoria Intergovernmental Affairs Director Thomas Adkins said the Legislature is working on a formula to estimate city population numbers. He said this would eliminate the mid-decade census. A mid-decade census triggers redistricting of council districts.

Peoria conducted a mid-decade census last fall, and will likely have to redistrict before the 2018 election.

In Subsection F, the committee voted to delete the first two sentences: “Councilmembers whose term of office commence in June, 1989 shall serve a two-year term. Six (6) Councilmembers shall be elected at the Primary or General Election held two (2) years thereafter, and three (3) chosen by lot at the first Council meeting of the new Council shall serve four year terms, and the remainder shall serve two year terms.”

Staff recommended removing Subsection G in its entirety, and the committee approved. That subsection deals with the number of signatures required for nomination petitions, dating back to 1994.

Section 4, Subsection B, the committee voted to delete in its entirety. That subsection refers to the term of mayor. Since that subsection was written, the mayor’s term has been set at two four-year terms.

In Section 5, Shreeve said staff recommended all of Subsection A should be struck – because it is old language - except for the last sentence which sets four-year terms of councilmembers.  

The suggestion was approved by the committee.

This past Wednesday, the committee picked up with the goal of finishing Articles IV through VIII, which deal with administrative departments, offices and employees; appointive boards and commissions; finance and taxation; ordinances and resolutions; and contracts. That meeting was held at the Pinnacle Peak Police Department.  

The next meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Feb. 24 at the Development and Community Services Building Point of View Conference Room, 9875 N. 85th Ave.

Topics:

• Article VIII. Ethics

• Article IX. Elections

• Article X. Initiative, Referendum and Recall

• Article XI. Municipal Court

The ad hoc committee is comprised of nine members, all nominated by city councilmembers to represent all parts of the city. The committee will bring its recommendations to council by May. Council will then place any suggested updates on the ballot.

Committee members and their districts are: Terry Ellis (Chairman), at large;  Susan Cherches, at large; John Durbin, Ironwood District; Brian Greathouse, Willow District; Mike Grose,  Acacia District; Mike Heath, Palo Verde District; Bill Higgins, Pine District; Joe LaRue, at large; Brad Shafer, Mesquite District.

Meeting No. 5: March 9

Sunrise Mountain Library, 21109 N. 98th Ave.

Topics:

• Article XII. Franchise and Public Utilities • Article XIII. Publicity and Records • Article XIV. General Provisions • Article XV. Gender • Article XVI. Succession in Government • Article XVII. Amendments

Meeting No. 6: March 23

Pinnacle Peak Police Department, 23100 N. Lake Pleasant Road

Topics:

• Review and approve proposed amendment changes • Permanent City Charter Review Committee • Citizen Redistricting Commission

Meeting No. 7: April 6

Development and Community Services Building Point of View Conference Room, 9875 N. 85th Ave.

Topics:

• Review and approve proposed amendment changes • Continue discussion on outstanding issues

Meeting No.8: April 20

Rio Vista Recreation Center, Riverside Room, 8866 W. Thunderbird Road

Topics:

• Final Committee review and development of recommendations report to City Council

Meeting No. 9: May 17: Council study session

Committee reports findings and recommendations to Council