~ by Bob Volpe ~
The long-awaited epic volume of amendments to the city’s charter have been submitted to the Woodland Park Council and could be headed to the April ballot.
If that scenario occurs, voters better put on their reading glasses, as the potential list covers a diverse range of detailed subjects, running the gamut from pay for council members/mayor and clarifying the duties of the police chief, to tougher standards for petitions that change the city charter and setting term limits for members of boards and commissions. Plus, the list includes many housekeeping measures.
At last week’s regular meeting of city council, Mayor Pro Tem Val Carr read a brief description of the 11 amendments handed down by the charter review committee.
These amendments will face the scrutiny of the public and come before council at the January 16 meeting for public comment. If history repeats itself, not all of these may make it on the ballot, as often elected leaders are worried about ballot question overload.
Here is a more in-depth look at the proposed amendments, and the reasons for these issues:
1. SHALL SECTION 3.6 OF THE CITY OF WOODLAND PARK CHARTER BE AMENDED TO PROVIDE A STIPEND FOR CITY COUNCIL MEMBERS SERVICE AND SET THE AMOUNT THEREOF BY ORDINANCE? MAYOR – $200 PER MONTH COUNCILMEMBER – $100 PER MONTH.
The review committee feels that since the city is one of a few Colorado municipalities to have no city council or mayor stipend, and there are costs associated with attending regular meetings of council and other board meetings that can create a financial burden on councilmembers and may discourage otherwise qualified candidates from running for office. This has been proposed before and defeated by voters.
2. SHALL SECTION 5.3(A) OF THE CITY OF WOODLAND PARK CHARTER BE AMENDED TO SET TERM LIMITS OF 8 CONSECUTIVE YEARS FOR BOARD AND COMMISSION APPOINTMENTS AS WELL AS ADJUST REMOVAL CRITERIA?
The committee feels that term limits are appropriate for board and commission members since members of council and the mayor are also subject to term limits, and that term limits will infuse the boards and commissions with new ideas and experience. Everybody loves term limits, but is it worth the cost to lose the experience of the members of boards and commissions that are hard to find?
3. SHALL THE WOODLAND PARK CITY CHARTER BE REVIEWED AND AMENDED TO REPLACE GENDER SPECIFIC TERMINOLOGY, PHRASES, OR WORDS WITH GENDER NEUTRAL FUNCTIONAL DESCRIPTIONS?
The committee feels this amendment will bring the city into compliance with other municipalities and update the current charter section that specifies “He” when referring to job titles and descriptions. This idea was proposed during a previous review of the charter, but never made it to the final ballot stage.
4. SHALL SECTION 15.16 OF THE CITY OF WOODLAND PARK CHARTER BE AMENDED TO REMOVE PENALTIES FOR VIOLATION OF THE CITY CHARTER?
City Council wishes to seek voter decision on whether or not the city of Woodland Park charter should be amended to remove penalties for violations of the charter; and, the charter language for penalties is antiquated and may cause legal risks and complications if attempted to be enforced as currently provided.
The committee feels that the language as currently written may subject the city to legal jeopardy.
5. SHALL SECTION 9.13 OF THE CITY OF WOODLAND PARK CHARTER BE AMENDED TO ALIGN THE DEADLINE FOR THE ANNUAL AUDIT DATE TO THE CURRENT STATE STATUTE?
The committee feels that this amendment will align the completion date for the annual audit to the current state statute.
6. SHALL SECTION 4.9(B) OF THE CITY OF WOODLAND PARK CHARTER BE AMENDED TO CLARIFY THE DEPARTMENT EMPLOYMENT RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE CHIEF OF POLICE?
The committee feels this amendment clarifies the department employment responsibilities of the chief of police. Clarifying the department employment responsibilities of the chief of police will ensure that the position is similarly situated to other director position in their responsibilities to make employment decisions within their respective departments. It strikes from the charter language that states, “and shall assist the city manager in selecting and/or dismissing members of the department.”
7. SHALL SECTION 6.2(H) OF THE CITY OF WOODLAND PARK CHARTER BE AMENDED TO HAVE THE CLERK OF THE MUNICIPAL COURT REPORT DIRECTLY TO THE CITY MANAGER INSTEAD OF CITY COUNCIL?
The committee feels this amendment will allow the city manager to hire the clerk of the municipal court to be consistent with the Manager-Council form of government of the city of Woodland Park. Plus, having the city manager be responsible for the hiring, supervision, and termination of this position will result in less legal risk to the city.
8. SHALL SECTION 3.4 OF THE CITY OF WOODLAND PARK CHARTER BE AMENDED TO USE STATE STANDARDS FOR QUALIFICATIONS OF ELECTED AND APPOINTED OFFICIALS?
This amendment will lower the qualification standards to run for elected office. It reduces the length of time a person must a citizen of the United States from 7-years to 1-year and lowers age limit to run for office from 21-years to 18-years old.
9. SHALL SECTION 4.3(B) AND SECTION 13.1 THROUGH SECTION 13.4 OF THE WOODLAND PARK CITY CHARTER BE AMENDED TO REMOVE THE PERSONNEL MERIT BOARD?
The committee feels removing the personnel merit board is antiquated. Matters of personnel will be handled by the city manager, should voters pass this amendment.
10. SHALL THE CITY OF WOODLAND PARK CHARTER BE AMENDED TO REMOVE SPECIFIC REQUIREMENTS FROM THE CHARTER BY RE-CODIFYING THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE BUDGET INTO THE CITY ORDINANCES FOR FUTURE FLEXIBILITY AND BEST PRACTICES?
City council wishes to seek voter decision on whether or not the charter should be amended to remove specific budget process language for the city of Woodland Park. Plus, by codifying budget requirement language in the ordinances, rather than the charter, it will allow adjustments for best practices and flexibility to City Council to update or change the process as appropriate.
11. SHALL SECTION 8.1 OF THE CITY OF WOODLAND PARK CHARTER BE AMENDED TO MODIFY THE STANDARD FOR CITIZEN INITIATED CHARTER AND MUNICIPAL CODE MODIFICATION PETITIONS?
City Council wishes to seek voter decision on whether or not the city of Woodland Park charter should be amended to increase the number of petition signatures required for a citizen initiative to change the charter. Tightening up the petition process has been a familiar theme of past charter review efforts.
(C) AN INITIATIVE PETITION TO AMEND THE WOODLAND PARK CHARTER SHALL BE SIGNED BY REGISTERED ELECTORS OF THE CITY EQUAL IN NUMBER TO AT LEAST FIFTEEN (15) PERCENT OF THE TOTAL NUMBER OF ELECTORS OF THE CITY REGISTERED TO VOTE AS OF THE DATE ESTABLISHED BY THE STATE STATUES FOR DETERMINING SUCH PERCENTAGE. SUCH MEASURES MUST PASS WITH A MARGIN OF AT LEAST TEN (10) PERCENT, OR AT LEAST BY FIFTY-FIVE PERCENT OF THE VOTES CAST.