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Wednesday, Nov. 26, 2014

Proposed charter nearly complete

Tuesday, November 27, 2001

SIKESTON - All the hard issues are hashed out and

voted on. An informal "straw poll" indicates the

proposed Home Rule Charter draft will be approved by

the commission. Now, charter commissioners are seeing

the light at the end of the tunnel and ended Monday's

meeting with discussion of how to "sell" the charter

to the voters.

The meeting began with Pat Cronan of Columbia, who was

hired by the charter commission for legal counsel on

the recommendation of the Missouri Municipal League.

He offered comments from his review of the proposed

charter draft.

Cronan said there were six issues he wished to bring

to the commissioners' attention:

* Section 11.4, which deals with amending the charter,

required two-thirds as much work to amend the charter

as to push an initiative through, according to Cronan.

Manuel Drumm, commissioner, said it should be a

"pretty major operation" to amend the charter whereas

changing an ordinance through initiative should be

"less dramatic."

Cronan agreed and recommended increasing the

percentage of registered qualified voters from 10

percent to 20 percent.

Commissioners approved the increase 8-1 with four of

the 13 commissioners absent.

* As recommended by Cronan, commissioners voted 9-0 to

add language to the section dealing with petitions,

Section 8.3, which would disallow withdrawing names

from a petition once it is filed.

* Section 5.2, which addresses the city's personnel

code, was changed by a 9-0 vote to specify the code

shall not include the Library Board, Board of

Municipal Utilities, the Housing Authority Board or

any other autonomous boards formed in the future

although those boards will not be prohibited from

adopting the city's personnel code if they choose to

do so.

* Cronan withdrew a question regarding language in

Section 3.5 which prohibits council members from

holding other city offices or jobs after being

convinced by commissioners the existing language was

necessary.

* The wishes of commissioners for a section dealing

with term limits for council members was clarified.

Consensus was reached that the limit would be two

terms, which is a total of six years, as either an

at-large or ward representative council member.

After serving two terms as a council member, the

person would be eligible to run for and serve as mayor

for a three-year term or would have to sit out for

three years before running for a council seat again.

"It's term limits, but pretty watered down," said

Larry Nickell, commissioner.

* The final issue was on a section that was voted down

and was no longer applicable.

Cronan offered to field questions from commissioners

regarding his review.

Drumm offered information to back his opinion that

Section 6.9, which deals with the administration of

the budget, is indeed legal in its present form which

reads only advisory boards must have their budgets

approved by the city council with autonomous boards

having the power to set their own budgets without

approval by council.

Harry Sharp, commission chairman, said Drumm and Steve

Sikes, vice chairman for the commission, "took great

pains to make sure they remained separate."

Cronan had previously indicated that in his opinion

the arrangement, which is presently in place in

Sikeston, is in violation of statutes.

Cronan said he did not propose any change as the

commission seemed to have decided the matter, but

confirmed he believed the city should legally have

authority over the Board of Municipal Utilities.

"I disagree with you 100 percent, Mr. Cronan," said

Drumm. "There is no autonomy if someone (else)

controls the budget."

Drumm said the BMU should present the budget to the

council as a courtesy, but if the council does not

approve of the way the board is running things council

members have the option of making new appointments.

Charles Leible, city counselor, said he believed the

only way they would really know if the arrangement is

legal or not is if the matter is actually challenged

in court.

Moving to the next item, Sharp asked if commissioners

would like "another set of eyes to do a legal review

of the charter."

Cronan estimated a review would take six or seven

hours. "You have to read it two or three times," he

said. Sharp estimated the cost at $1,000-$2,000.

As only six commissioners voted in favor of the

additional review, the motion to pay for another

review was not passed.

Commissioners also reviewed a chart depicting "the way

the elections would start if the charter is approved,"

according to Sharp, so the council member terms would

be appropriately staggered.

Discussion then turned toward how to educate voters

about the Home Rule Charter in preparation for the

April 2 election as commissioners reviewed early

drafts of a proposed preface and an informational

leaflet.

Larry Tetley, commissioner, said the people he talked

with seemed to believe that the Home Rule Charter

wouldn't change anything, but commissioners agreed the

change to the ward system was a significant change.

Cronan said the section dealing with referendum,

recall and initiative imparted "a heck of a lot of

power that the people don't have now."

Drumm proposed bringing in former mayors to the next

meeting so commissioners could "hear what a mayor

actually does ... I don't know why we want to elect a

mayor."

He expressed concern that three years is a long time

for the city staff and city manager to deal with "a

guy who thinks he's running (the city) when he isn't."

The wide range of opinions voiced by members of the

public and commissioners regarding the mayor and

whether the position should be a weak or strong mayor

elected by the people or by the council reminded

commissioners that their choice - a weak mayor elected

by the people - was a compromise.

Commissioners approved formally requesting the city

council to pass an ordinance placing the charter on

the April 2 ballot.

All 26 pages of the current Home Rule Charter draft

are available on the Internet for review by the

public. A link to the online draft can be found at

http://www.sikeston.org/charterhome.htm.