Stephenville Council considers reducing its size, term limits

Councilmen question why city is fixing something that is not broken

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The Stephenville City Council

By RUSSELL HUFFMAN
TheFlashToday.com

STEPHENVILLE (August 16, 2016) – Proposed changes to the Stephenville city charter, which include reducing the number of city council members and limiting their terms were met with less than a lukewarm reception Tuesday evening and won’t be part of a November 2016 election.

The proposed city charter changes were part of a special council meeting held at Stephenville City Hall’s training room. The majority of changes are merely “housekeeping” and bringing the charter’s language more in line with city ordinances.

One example of a housekeeping  change is rewriting the charter from a “mayor council government” to “council-manager form of government”.

According to City Attorney Randy Thomas, Stephenville is operating under a “council-manager form of government” where the majority of duties are being handled by the City Administrator Pat Bridges.

While Mayor Kenny Weldon does have duties it is Bridges who handles the majority of the administrative duties and runs the city day-to-day operations. Weldon spoke in favor of the measure stating that citizens and even sometimes council members are unaware of some of the limitations of his office.

Apparently discussion of changes to Stephenville’s city charter began during a recent council retreat and the potentially controversial subjects of reducing council members and term limits were brought up by Councilmen Brady Pendleton and Rhett Harrison respectively.

“What’s wrong with it now?” Councilman Jerry Warren asked Thomas in reference to the number of council members currently serving Stephenville.

“Nothing,” Thomas replied. “It works well or it has.”

Councilman Doug Svien questioned costs, the definitions of government and the reason for an apparent rush into a November time frame for an election.

Bridges explained the council hadn’t been able to address the potential changes until Tuesday.  If the council wanted the issue up for a November election it would need to be placed on the ballot by August 22.

Councilman Alan Nix joked he wasn’t often in line with Councilman Warren, but he too questioned why the council was looking at fixing something that is working.

“I think this is something that needs a more in depth discussion,” Nix said.

Pendleton and Harrison may have brought up reductions and term limits; however neither appeared to push those subjects as they listened to their fellow council members discuss the issues.

Councilwoman Sherry Zachery told Bridges that she had some complied information regarding term limits she would send him to aid in further research.

Mayor Weldon complimented the action of addressing the charter in regard to the need to change wording to bring the document in line with city ordinances.

A short discussion focused on sending the charter amendments to either the personnel or nominations committee before the council agreed to schedule a workshop (possibly November) in the future. If changes are to be put on the ballot they would need to be submitted next March.

PROPOSED CHARTER AMENDMENTS

November 8, 2016

ARTICLE II. POWERS

PROPOSED AMENDMENT 1.

1) Change the designation of the City’ s form of government from ” mayor council

government” to “council-manager government”.

AMEND Article II. ( POWERS), Section 1 ( FORM OF GOVERNMENT) of the City Charter of the City

of Stephenville, Texas, as follows:

Section 1 FORM OF GOVERNMENT.

REMOVE: ” The municipal government provided by this charter shall be known as the mayor council government.”

REPLACE: ” The municipal government provided by this charter shall be known as the council- manager form of government.”

The estimate is there will be no anticipated fiscal impact on the city of Stephenville if this amendment is approved at the election.

ARTICLE III. THE COUNCIL.

PROPOSED AMENDMENT 2.

2) Remove the invalid election date for election of mayor.

AMEND Article III. ( THE COUNCIL), Section 2 ( MAYOR- TERM) of the City Charter of the City of Stephenville, Texas, to read:

Section 2 MAYOR-TERM.

REMOVE: ” The mayor shall be elected from the city at large for a term of two ( 2)years or until the mayor’ s successor has been elected and duly qualified. The mayor shall be elected on the first Saturday in May each even numbered year.”

REPLACE: ” The mayor shall be elected from the city at large for a term of two ( 2) years or until the mayor’ s successor has been elected and duly qualified. The mayor shall be elected each even- numbered year as prescribed by the Election Code, Vernon’ s Texas Codes Annotated.”

The estimate is there will be no anticipated fiscal impact on the city of Stephenville if this amendment is approved at the election.

PROPOSED AMENDMENT 3.

3) Reduce the number of council members from eight( 8) to six( 6).

AMEND Article III. ( THE COUNCIL), Section 1 ( GOVERNING BODY) of the City Charter of the City of Stephenville, Texas, to read:

Section 1 GOVERNING BODY.

REMOVE: ” All governing and lawmaking powers of the City of Stephenville shall be vested in the council which shall consist of eight ( 8) councilmen and a mayor, and said body shall be known as the ‘ city council’.” REPLACE: ” All governing and lawmaking powers of the City of Stephenville shall be vested in the council which shall consist of six ( 6) council members and a mayor, and said body shall be known as the ‘ city council’.”

AMEND Article III. ( THE COUNCIL), Section 5 ( COUNCIL MEMBERS, TERMS OF OFFICE) of the City Charter of the City of Stephenville, Texas, to read:

REMOVE: ” There shall be eight (8) members of the city council elected at large from the City of Stephenville. Council members shall be elected for a term of two (2) years, four (4) council members being elected each year.”

REPLACE: ” There shall be six ( 6) members of the city council elected at large from the City of Stephenville. Council members shall be elected for a term of two (2) years, three (3) council members being elected each year.”

AMEND Article III. ( THE COUNCIL), Section 7 ( MAYOR, COUNCIL MEMBERS– QUALIFICATIONS) of the City Charter of the City of Stephenville, Texas, to read:

REMOVE: ” Each of the eight (8) council members and the mayor shall be a citizen of the United States of America, have been a resident of the State of Texas for a period of at least one ( 1) year, have been a resident of the City of Stephenville for a period of at least six ( 6) months, be a qualified voter of the State of Texas, shall not be in arrears in the payment of any taxes or any other liability due the city, and for a period of at least six ( 6) months prior to the election date.”

REPLACE: ” Each of the six ( 6) council members and the mayor shall be a citizen of the United States of America, have been a resident of the State of Texas for a period of at least one ( 1) year, have been a resident of the City of Stephenville for a period of at least six ( 6) months, be a qualified voter of the State of Texas, shall not be in arrears in the payment of any taxes or any other liability due the city, and for a period of at least six ( 6) months prior to the election date.”

The estimate is there will be no anticipated fiscal impact on the city of Stephenville if this amendment is approved at the election.

ARTICLE III. THE COUNCIL.

PROPOSED AMENDMENT 4.

4) Remove the wording referring to the 1964 election.

AMEND Article III. ( THE COUNCIL), Section 5 ( COUNCIL MEMBERS, TERMS OF OFFICE) of the City Charter of the City of Stephenville, Texas, to read:

Section 5 COUNCIL MEMBERS, TERMS OF OFFICE.

REMOVE: “Those council members who are elected in the year 1964 shall, after their election, draw for places 2, 4, 5 and 8; and those council members holding over who were elected in 1963 shall draw for places 1, 3, 5 and 7. Thereafter council members shall run and be elected by place designation.”

The estimate is there will be no anticipated fiscal impact on the city of Stephenville if this amendment is approved at the election.

ARTICLE III. THE COUNCIL.

PROPOSED AMENDMENT 5.

5) Reduce the number of council members required to make a quorum. AMEND Article III. ( THE COUNCIL), Section 9 ( QUORUM) of the City Charter of the City of Stephenville, Texas, to read:

Section 9 QUORUM.

REMOVE: ” A quorum at any council meeting will be established by the presence of at least five (5) members.”

REPLACE: ” A quorum at any council meeting will be established by the presence of at least four( 4) members.”

The estimate is there will be no anticipated fiscal impact on the City of Stephenville if this amendment is approved at the election.

Proposed Charter Amendments— Page 3

PROPOSED AMENDMENT 6.

6) Add a new section providing for term limits for the mayor and council members.

ADD Article III. ( THE COUNCIL), Section 10 ( TERM LIMITS) of the City Charter of the City of Stephenville, Texas, to read:

Section 10 TERM LIMITS.

ADD: No person shall be elected to serve in the position of mayor or council member for more than five (5) consecutive two-year terms. A person who has reached the limitation on terms provided in this section shall not be eligible for election or appointment to the city council until one term of office for the council has expired.”

The estimate is there will be no anticipated fiscal impact on the City of Stephenville if this amendment is approved at the election.

 

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