(Posted Aug. 5, 2016)
By Sandi Latimer, Staff Writer
Proposed charter amendments are headed to the Nov. 8 election ballot in West Jefferson.
Some of the proposed changes are as simple as inserting a phrase or sentence in an article for clarification. In two cases, new articles are proposed.
A seven-member charter review commission made the recommendations. After an initial reading at council in early July and a special meeting on July 28, the commission made adjustments based on council input. Council accepted the final version of the recommendations on Aug. 1.
The hang-up regarded an article about role changes when the village reaches city status. The commission had inserted a paragraph that would have created a director of public safety and given that person power to set the pay scale of the police chief and officers.
During debate at the special meeting on July 28, council members Lorie Cafagno, Jen Wagner and Doug Eakins argued that that was too much power for one person and wanted to know why only the police department was included. They also complained that a director of public safety, as the proposed change was written, could override the seven-member village council. Based on council’s input, the charter re-view commission deleted that paragraph.
With all changes finalized, the village is submitting the proposed charter amendments to the Madison County Board of Elections. The deadline to place issues on the Nov. 8 ballot is Aug. 10.
The full language of the changes will not be printed on the ballot, just a question as to whether or not the changes should be accepted. The full text of the changes will be printed in newspapers as well as on a board at the polling places on Election Day.
The proposed changes include:
- Article III, Mayor, Section 3.02—Qualification. Inserting the phrase except as described in Article VII of this Charter. Article VII pertains to the term of the mayor at the time when the 10-year census finds the population large enough that the village becomes a city.
- Article VIII, Department of Law, Section 8.02—General Powers and Duties. A new paragraph was added that has the law director and/or assistant issuing a monthly report on updates of the law to the director of public safety and the chief of police.
Charter review commission members said they want police officers to be aware of changes in law and court decisions when stopping a person. They said they don’t want a suspect to slip through the cracks because a police officer was unaware of a change.
- Article III, Mayor, Section 3.01— Elections and Terms. This change inserts the phrase “commencing” with to set a time frame when the village becomes a city.
- Article IV, The Council, Section 4.02 –Compensation and Term. This change inserts the phrase “commencing with” to set a time frame when the village becomes a city.
- Article III, Mayor, Section 3.06— Acting Mayor. A sentence is added that stipulates that the person designated acting mayor cannot hold any other municipal office.
- Article IV, The Council, Section 4.06—Removal. A sentence was added to allow the removed member to appeal his/her removal.
- Article IV, The Council, New Section. 4.19.—Emergency Meetings. This section allows for emergency meetings of council and how members are to be notified.
- Article IV, The Council, New Section 4.20—Addition of emergency meeting language. This new paragraph adds the word “emergency” each time the “regular or special meetings” appears in the charter.
- Article XII, Nominations and Elections, Section 12.01—Nominations. Proposed changes include the word “petitions” instead of “petition” and adds a top limit of 75 signatures of qualified voters.
- Article XVI, Charter Review Commission, New Section 1.05— Independent Legal Counsel. A new paragraph is added to allow for legal counsel for the charter review commission. It may not necessarily be the village’s law director.