|Title:||Council Goal Charter Review and Update|
|Date:||February 17, 2004|
|Submitted By:||Ann Seltzer, Management Analyst|
|Gino Grimaldi, City Administrator
|Synopsis:||The 2003-2004 council goals include the goal "Consider a
Council should discuss whether it wants to proceed with a charter review. If so, the discussion should include what type of charter review individual councilors envision such as a full review of the entire charter or a list of specific issues to be reviewed.
|Recommendation:||Schedule a study session to accommodate a discussion on charter review.|
|Fiscal Impact:||None at this time.
Should Council decide to proceed with the Charter Review, the primary expense is the consultant fee. Depending on the review process, the charge of the committee and the level of involvement from an expert in charter review and drafting anticipated costs to range from $5000 to $10,000 plus staff support.
|Background:||The current Charter of the City of Ashland was reviewed and amended in
1970. Voters approved the proposed amendments in 1972.
Cities and counties update their charters for a variety of reasons: to clarify lines of authority, to clarify confusing language, to improve the efficiency and cost effectiveness of government, to eliminate obsolete, conflicting and ambiguous provisions. Some charters specify that the document is reviewed on a regular timeline, other charters do not; some specify the make up of a charter review committee others do not. Because the needs of communities change, and State and Federal laws change, it is important that a charter be updated periodically and reflect the current times. Sometimes communities choose to adopt an entirely new charter and include elements of the original.
A city charter is viewed as a city constitution. For this reason, city powers are generally stated in broad, general comprehensive terms. The charter should deal only with the basic, broad fundamentals of city government. It should be as concise as possible and adaptable to changing conditions to avoid the need for frequent amendment.
The scope of a charter review can range from a full review of the existing charter by examining it line by line to a section specific review. Some cities opt to start with a sample or model charter that already reflects the current times and is legally in compliance and then add sections to it from their existing charter. Other cities opt to edit from the existing charter and add sections from a sample charter.
The only community similar in size to Ashland that has recently undertaken a major charter review process in Oregon is Eugene. Information from the League of Oregon Cities (LOC) indicates that only a few cities in Oregon in the recent past have undertaken major charter review processes, Rogue River, Sisters and Eugene.
Multnomah County is currently in the charter review process. The Benton County Charter requires that the charter be reviewed and updated every two years and has standing Charter Review Committee.
A charter can only be amended by a vote of the people. Generally charter amendments are referred to a vote by the Council but amendments can also be proposed by initiative petition.
There are a number of steps involved with updating a charter and a number of tools available to assist those involved in the process.
Should the council decide to proceed, the following basic steps should occur.
1) A motion and vote of the council to create a citizen committee to undertake a review of the Ashland City Charter.
2) Define the charge and make up of the committee.
3) Appoint a Charter Review Committee of no more than seven or ten people. It is critical that this committee is viewed by the community as impartial, unbiased and free of any perceived political gain. As such a Charter Review Committee generally does not include elected officials, though occasionally persons who previously served in an elected capacity sit on the committee though only in a citizen role not as a political figure. The committee is responsible for the content of the charter. The committee would present recommended changes to the council.
4) Hire a consultant with experience in charter drafting, legal review and evaluation. Evaluate the existing charter to determine needed changes, deletions or additions. The consultant drafts changes to the charter based on input from the Charter Review Committee and eventually drafts the ballot title. This person is responsible for the form and language of the charter not the content of the document.
5) Council reviews and deliberates on recommended amendment(s) from the Charter Review Committee and then decides what should be placed on the ballot.
|Timeline:||The item itself is not time-sensitive. However, a revision
of the charter must be placed before the voters of the City of Ashland and
therefore there is a need at some point to be cognizant of the election time
The estimated timeline for the entire process is six to nine months.