In November Colleyville residents will vote on five propositions that, if passed, would amend the city’s charter, which contains the city’s bylaws.
The charter, which was adopted in 1977, was last amended in 2005.
Colleyville Mayor Richard Newton, who was elected in May, said he wanted to waste no time in making good on his campaign promises to tackle several issues in Colleyville, with reviewing the city charter high on the list.
“The promises, or things that I said I was running on, I’m setting about doing those things and in an appropriate way by getting citizens involved,” he said.
In June the Colleyville Citizen’s Charter Review Committee was created with the purpose of looking at specific charter elements, such as term limits, electronic voting, financial disclosures, approval of senior staff by City Council and overall language in the charter.
The 10-person committee met for about a month and presented recommendations to City Council at its Aug. 18 meeting, where council members decided to send five recommendations to the Nov. 8 ballot.
Frank Carroll, chairman of the city’s charter review committee, said one of the biggest proposed changes is Proposition 1, which states that no person can serve as a council member or mayor for more than two consecutive three-year elected terms.
If passed, the amendment would be effective in the next municipal election in May and would apply to anyone currently occupying an elected seat.
“It was no question about it—everybody [on the committee] wanted term limits,” Carroll said. “And everybody agreed that it should be two terms.”
Although the committee agreed term limits should be added to the charter, some council members disagreed.
“I am opposed to the term limit initiative that is on the ballot for two main reasons,” Council Member Jody Short said. “First is the lack of demonstrated need. Colleyville has a long history of council members and mayors serving short terms. Our most recent election was more evidence of voters enforcing term limits. Second, research shows that term limits at a municipal level tend to put more power in the hands of the executive officer and city staff.”
Mayor Pro Tem Chris Putnam said he feels term limits are long overdue.
“Last May’s City Council election broke every turnout record in the history of Colleyville with an overwhelming margin of victory,” he said. “It was a clear message from [citizens] that our long-term incumbent politicians had over-reached, become insulated and deaf to its citizens. This is precisely what happens when too few people hold too much political power for too long in a small town.”
Council Member Mike Taylor also disagrees with the proposition.
“Colleyville has never had a term-limit problem due to its very conservative roots,” he said. “When Colleyville citizens have wanted to make a change, they have made them on election day without a government mandate.”
Both Taylor and Short will have served two consecutive terms at the end of their current council terms. Council members Bobby Lindamood, Tammy Nakamura and Nancy Coplen as well as Putnam are serving their first elected term.
If passed by voters, Proposition 2 would allow council to vote electronically instead of by vocal ayes and nays.
“That would allow everyone to vote simultaneously rather than individually [which would help] avoid any concern that you can sway people by the order in which they vote,” Newton said.
Proposition 3 would require the appointments of city secretary, police chief, fire chief, head of the finance department and director of public works to be approved by the council. Currently only the city manager is approved by the council.
Proposition 4 would eliminate wording that is no longer needed. It deletes wording added in 2005 that pertained to how the city should transition from five City Council members to six.
“Before 2005 the mayor did not vote and could only veto,” Newton said. “But in 2005 that [changed], and we [added] a council member and allowed the mayor to vote on everything. We had to add a council member so there wouldn’t be a tie vote.”
The fifth proposition pertains to who has to fill out a financial disclosure form and how often.
“Right now anybody that runs for office has to fill out those financial disclosures, and anybody that’s appointed to planning and zoning or board of adjustments has to also,” Newton said. “Nobody on city staff currently has to do that. The key change is [requiring] the senior executives in the city staff to fill out disclosures. It would also [require everyone who has to fill out the disclosure to] refresh it annually.”