A citizen committee is expected to be appointed by McKinney City Council at its next regular meeting to consider a potential charter amendment election.

Council members considered the proposed election at a May 7 work session meeting and determined the need for a citizen committee to review the item.

The details

Council members Geré Feltus and Justin Beller requested the discussion on the potential charter amendment election be added to the agenda, according to the meeting presentation.

The council members requested that four topics be considered for potential inclusion in the potential election, including changes to:
  • Term lengths
  • Term limits
  • Council compensation
  • Composition of council member districts
A charter amendment election that would have considered changes to council member term lengths and limits was considered earlier this year.

Council members elected to not call the charter amendment election during the May election and instead consider the item for the November ballot or a future election. McKinney Mayor George Fuller said the November election would likely have a higher turnout.

“The reason why we decided to push this discussion, which may or may not result in a referendum, was because we felt if we were going to put something on the ballot, this November, being a presidential election, [we] couldn’t imagine a higher turnout,” Fuller said.

The setup

The city has conducted five charter amendment elections since 2000, according to the meeting presentation.

In 2001, a total of 10 propositions were considered, including seven general “cleanup” items of language in the city charter and three items related to the role of the council, including terms limits and meeting stipends. All of the propositions passed.

In 2004, two propositions were considered and only one passed, which was for “general cleanup” of the charter, according to city documents. The failed item would have removed the cap for meeting stipends for council members.

In 2011, a total of three propositions passed, including two “cleanup” items as well as one item that shifted City Council member terms from three years to four years. The item also included clarifying term limits, according to city documents.

In 2014, voters considered and passed 10 propositions, including:
  • Three items related to council qualifications
  • Two items for general cleanup of language in the city charter
  • Two items to clarify council members’ appointment and removal authority
  • One item to remove the cap for meeting stipends
  • One item to allow council vacancies to be filled by appointment
  • One item to allow the fire department to have additional investigation powers
The most recent charter amendment election was held in 2019 and included two items, both of which passed, according to city documents. The items included reducing the signature threshold needed to initiate a recall election and a clarification to recall elections to make them citywide.

What they’re saying

Feltus said she advocated for the item to be considered due to growth in the McKinney area since the last charter amendment election on term lengths and limits.

“By no means are we taking away the ability for anyone to vote on what they prefer to happen, whether we keep terms exactly as [they] are or change it,” she said. “With as many people who have moved into the city, it is only fair to ask ... what people prefer.”

She also said the election could result in increased compensation for council members. Additional compensation could allow for more opportunity for individuals looking to serve on the council, she said.

“Personally, I’m not worried about compensation. What I do worry about ... are people who are absolutely qualified to sit in this seat but don’t have the financial means to do so,” she said. “Are we providing them with the means to cover all the times that they have to miss work?”

Beller mentioned that due to growth in the city, the number of residents in each individual council district has grown, resulting in challenges in providing representation.

“One of the purposes of districts was to provide direct representation, and it [is becoming] harder and harder,” he said.

Five community members spoke at the meeting, expressing concerns for any charter amendments that would allow extending term limits and lengths.

“When we have new [council] members, we get fresh blood, fresh ideas,” McKinney resident Donald Silver said at the meeting.

Looking ahead

Council members directed city staff to move forward with a citizen committee process at the meeting.

The committee will consider term lengths, term limits, compensation and district composition but are also expected to review the city charter at large.

Council members are expected to select three nominees prior to the May 21 meeting. Following appointments, the committee would meet weekly or biweekly in June and July, and would be expected to present the results to council members in August, Director of Strategic Services Trevor Minyard said.

If council members elect to move forward with the charter amendment election, it would have to be called by Aug. 19 to be included on the November general election ballot, Minyard said. If it would be conducted during the May 2025 election, it would have to be called by February 2025.