October 17, 2021

 

Georgetown charter amendments up for vote

 

By CHRISTOPHER DE LOS SANTOS

Voters who live inside Georgetown’s city limits will have nine propositions for changes to the city charter on their November 2 ballots. Early voting begins Monday. 

The city council forms a charter review committee every eight to 10 years to review the city charter and propose changes and updates. Council members selected these nine from a group of changes recommended by the citizen committee, and Georgetown City Council placed the amendments on the ballot by ordinance over the summer. 

A 10th proposition – related to alcoholic beverage sales at properties that have been annexed into the city since 2010, the last time an alcohol proposition was approved by Georgetown voters – will also be on the city ballot.  

Proposition A

If Proposition A is approved by voters, Georgetown’s mayor and city council members would have to take a two year break from the city council following three-consecutive terms on the dais. There would be an exception to allow a council member who has served three consecutive terms to be elected mayor.

If this proposition passes it will go into effect following the municipal elections in May of next year. Proposition A would provide for term limits on the mayor and city council members elected after that.

Proposition B 

If approved, Proposition B would clarify age and residence requirements for the mayor and city council members. 

The change would require a person to be at least 21-years-old on the first day of their term. It would also require that council members live in the district they represent for at least 12 months before the election day, and that the mayor live in the city for at least 12 months before the election day.

The period a former council member or mayor is not allowed to work for the city after leaving office would also be reduced from two years to one year. 

Proposition C 

If Proposition C passes,  city council would be able to make an appointment to fill a council member vacancy, with less than twelve months left of a term, within thirty  days of the vacancy.

Proposition D

If Proposition D passes, city council actions, such as passing resolutions, agreements and ordinances, would require an affirmative vote of a majority of council members present and voting.  

At present, city charter language requires a supermajority when more than two council members are not present.

Proposition E

If approved, Proposition E would remove the requirement to publish an ordinance caption in a newspaper of record. It would also remove the requirement to file an ordinance with the city secretary seven days prior to the council considering it. 

Proposition E would also require an ordinance to be adopted after approval at two separate meetings; and would require ordinance captions to be read at one of the two meetings.

Proposition F

If Proposition F passes, any petition for initiative, referendum or recall of city officials would have to be signed by 15 percent of the voters registered in the city on the date of the last municipal election.

Proposition F does not contain separate requirements for recalling a mayor or a council member.

Present language in the charter has one standard for initiative and referendum and separate standards for recalls. For initiative and referendum, the present charter language requires signatures to number at least “15 percent of the qualified voters in the last municipal election but not less than 250 qualified voters.”

For recall, the present charter language sets one requirement for mayor (15 percent of registered voters in the city) and a distinct requirement for council members (15 percent of voters in the council district).

Proposition G

Proposition G would, if approved, remove divisions from the city’s administrative organization, but leave administrative departments.

Proposition H

Proposition H would, if approved, allow for city budget amendments in cases of emergency and for municipal purposes as allowed under state law.

Proposition I

Approval of Proposition I would allow certain proposed ordinances to be posted on the city’s website for 30 days before final passage. These notices would no longer be required to be published in a newspaper of record.

Alcohol proposition

Separate from the city charter propositions, this ballot initiative would allow alcoholic beverage sales in all qualifying locations within the city limits. Presently, areas that were annexed after 2010 are not permitted to sell alcohol. 

Qualifying locations for alcoholic beverage sales include those that are farther than 300 feet away from churchs, schools or public hospitals.

If this proposition does not pass, alcohol sales remain as they are now, set within the city limits as of 2010, and illegal in areas annexed afterward.