Charter review sparks little interest

City has no volunteers to serve on committe to consider charter revisions

Christina M. Currie

Community interest in reviewing the city’s charter was so low 13 years ago that council members had to beg for volunteers.

Interest hasn’t increased since then.

With one day until the deadline, no one has volunteered to serve on a committee that would review the city charter and make recommendations for change.

“I thought there would be some interest from the community, but I guess not,” Mayor Don Jones said. “If we have to go out and beat the bushes, we will.”

That likely will be the next step.

City Manager Jim Ferree set the Thursday deadline for letters of interest so that he could present a list of candidates to the City Council at an Aug. 9 meeting.

No candidates means that councilors will be asked to come up with possible candidates and personally request that they serve.

“Our next step will be to recruit,” he said. “See if we can get some people.”

He anticipates the committee — which by ordinance must have more than nine members — will meet once a month until April.

“It’ll really be up to the committee and what they want to do,” he said.

The goal is to present recommendations to the council, which would be placed on the November 2006 ballot for voter approval.

According to Ferree, there are several items in the charter that should be in the form of city policy or ordinance.

“As case law evolves, so do policies,” he said.

“There needs to be some flexibility.”

He said there are a few items a charter is required to cover, including the make-up of the council, how members are elected and council members’ powers, duties and length of service.

The charter also outlines the responsibilities of the city manager, clerk, attorney and judge as well as defining the procedures for putting items on the ballot and provisions for recalls.

Ferree will provide the committee with a model charter published by the National Civic League.

If no one volunteers for the committee, city staff will make suggestions for revisions to the council, but Ferree said citizen input is desirable.

“What we want is a good cross section of the city,” he said.

The committee is not limited to city residents. “If you’re warm and breathing,” Jones said, “you’re worthy.”

Christina M. Currie can be reached at 824-7031 or

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