The proposed amendments were presented by the 2021 Charter Review Commission's chair, John Thomaides. They will be reviewed twice more by City Council before being submitted to voters to consider in the Nov. 2 election.
Charter amendments will be finalized by City Council on Aug. 3, 2021, but will go before council members again before that, although a specific date was not announced.
During Tuesday's meeting, City Council provided staff with some direction on how to proceed and added a proposed amendment related to Planning and Zoning Commission votes.
Among multiple contested votes, the majority of City Council said they did not want to see an increase of mayoral term lengths from two years to four years, but did want to include a limit on the number of consecutive terms a mayor could serve.
Mayor Jane Hughson, who voted against longer terms, noted the pressure of being mayor and went on to suggest longer terms might limit the pool of candidates.
"The position of mayor is really important, and I think it's good that they have to run again after two years and make them earn that position," Hughson said.
Place 3 Council Member Alyssa Garza voted to increase the duration of the mayor's term for the purpose of aligning it with larger elections.
"Every four years it can align with presidential elections, and that'll ensure a good turnout, and so we ensure that our mayor is elected by a substantial amount of individuals," Garza said. "That's one of the things that makes the four years appealing to me."
In addition to Hughson and Garza, Place 1 Council Member Max Baker, Place 2 Council Member Saul Gonzales, Place 4 Council Member Shane Scott, Place 5 Council Member Mark Gleason and Place 6 Council Member Melissa Derrick cast votes on the amendments seen below, which include council votes and the charter commission's stated purpose for each.
- 1. Amending Section 1.03 – Statement of Goals – to replace the current section and amend it to read as attached at the end of this Cumulative List.
- Purpose: To bring organization and structure to the statement of goals of the city government.
- 2. Amend Section 3.01(c) – City Council Terms – to provide that a council member may serve no more than three consecutive terms of office effective at the regular election in November 2022.
- Purpose: To enhance opportunities for individuals with fresh ideas and perspectives to serve on the City Council and establish limits on consecutive terms.
- 4-3 - Hughson, Derrick and Gonzales opposed.
- 3. Amending Section 3.01(c) – City Council Terms – to change the term of office for the position of mayor from 2 years to 4 years, effective at the regular election for mayor in November of 2024, and to provide that a person may serve no more than two consecutive terms as mayor.
- Purpose: To provide consistent and stable representation for the city in the position of mayor, to eliminate campaigning required every two years, to place the election for mayor in the highest voter turnout years (Presidential) and to establish limits on consecutive terms.
- Term limits of two consecutive terms - 4-3 - Hughson, Derrick and Gonzales opposed.
- Four year mayoral terms - 3-4 - Hughson, Gonzales, Derrick, and Gleason opposed.
- 4. Amending Section 3.09 – Meetings of the City Council – to add a provision requiring that all City Council agendas contain an item listed as: “Citizen Comment Period” and “Question and answer Session with Press and Public.”
- Purpose: To promote transparency in city government by allowing citizens and the media to ask questions and comment on city practices and proposed policies or programs at all council meetings.
- 5. Amending Section 4.01(b) – City Manager – to allow the removal of city manager by the vote of four members of the City Council instead of five members.
- Purpose: To make the number of votes required to remove the city manager consistent with the number required for appointment.
- 6-1 - Derrick opposed.
- 6. Amending Section 4.01(c)(2) – City Manager – to remove the requirement for City Council approval of the city manager’s appointment of assistant city managers.
- Purpose: To allow the city manager to select individuals best suited to help implement the policy goals set by the City Council.
- 7. Amending Section 4.02 – City Clerk – to remove the requirement for City Council approval of the city clerk’s appointment of assistant city clerks.
- Purpose: To allow the city clerk to select individuals best suited for assistant city clerk positions within that department.
- 8. Amending Section 4.02 – City Clerk – to allow appointment of a city clerk who resides in either the city limits, within Hays County, or within the city’s extraterritorial jurisdiction.
- Purpose: To expand the pool of applicants to be considered for the City Clerks position.
- 9. Amending Section 4.03(b) – Municipal Court – to eliminate the city residency requirement for appointment of the presiding judge.
- Purpose: To expand the pool of potential applicants for the Municipal court judge and reduce potential conflicts of interest.
- 4-3 - Garza, Scott and Baker opposed.
- 10. Amending Section 4.03(b) – Municipal Court – to remove the requirement for City Council approval of the presiding judge’s appointment of the municipal court clerk and assistant clerks.
- Purpose: To allow the presiding judge to select individuals best-suited to administer the day-to-day operations of the municipal court.
- 6-1 - Garza opposed.
- 11. Amending Section 4.04 – City Attorney – to remove the requirement for City Council approval of the city attorney’s appointment of assistant city attorneys.
- Purpose: To allow the city attorney to select individuals best-suited to represent the city’s legal interests and provide legal services to the City Council, boards and commissions, and city staff.
- 12. Amending Section 8.02 – Preparation and Submission of Budget – to eliminate the specific deadlines of Jan. 31 for the council visioning session, Feb. 27 for the budget policy workshop, and March 31 to formulate the council’s budget policy statement but retaining the requirement that those actions occur every year in the budgeting process.
- Purpose: To provide staff and the city council flexibility in the budgeting process and allow sufficient time to gather and analyze relevant data to assess the city’s current financial position and projected revenue.
- 13. Amending Section 12.12(a)(4) – Charter Review Commission – to clarify that the charter review commission shall prepare a final report and require the chair or a designated member of the commission to present the commission’s findings and recommended amendments, if any, to the City Council.
- Purpose: To make the preparation of a final report mandatory and provide an opportunity for the charter review commission chair or designated member to speak before the City Council.
Charter amendments added by City Council
- 14. Planning and Zoning Commission will require five votes to pass an item during its meetings instead of four.