BALLOT QUESTIONS 10-20 November 4, 2014
AMENDMENTS TO CITY OF NEWPORT HOME RULE CHARTER
(Resolutions of the Newport City Council adopted July 23, 2014)
(Resolutions of the Newport City Council adopted July 23, 2014)
Shall the following sections of
the City of Newport Home Rule Charter be amended to read:
- Section 2-2 of Chapter II THE COUNCIL entitled “TERMS OF OFFICE”
“The terms of office of the members of the Council shall be for two years and shall begin on the first day of December next following their election.”
Currently, council members continue to serve approximately 60 days following the election from the day of the election until the second day of January. This provision would decrease that time period while still allowing for any ballot issues to be resolved.
- Section 2-3 of Chapter II THE COUNCIL entitled “VACANCIES”
“Any vacancies arising from death, resignation or any reason in the membership of the Council shall be filled by four affirmative votes of the remaining members of the Council within thirty (30) days after the Council learns of the vacancy or, in the event of a tie or inability to elect, the vacancy shall be filled as soon thereafter as possible by a majority vote of all the remaining members of the Council; provided, however, the Council shall provide for the public solicitation of applicants.
“The Council shall fill any vacancy arising from death, resignation or any reason in the membership of the School Committee within thirty (30) days after learning of the vacancy or as soon thereafter as may be possible by a majority vote of all members of the Council; provided, however, the Council shall provide for the public solicitation of applicants. Any person appointed to fill a vacancy on the School Committee by the Council shall serve only until a person is elected and qualified at the next City election under this charter.
Currently, the Charter reads in part: Any vacancy arising from death, resignation or any reason in the membership of the Council shall be filled by the last election candidate who received the next highest number of votes for the ward or at-large seat.
The current charter has the same provision for members of the School Committee.
With this change in the Charter the Council would instead solicit applicants from the public for these offices and select the replacement from among the applicants.
- Section 2-12 of Chapter II Action by Resident or Taxpayer
“If the Manager shall fail to perform any act required of him or her by the preceding section of this Chapter, any resident or taxpayer may require him or her to perform such act by filing with the City Clerk a demand in writing signed by such resident or taxpayer for such performance, which shall contain a recital of the facts upon which demand is based.
This change adds the words “resident or” in three instances in the section where only “taxpayer” appears currently.
- Section 2-17 of Chapter II THE COUNCIL entitled “ORGANIZATION OF COUNCIL”
“The Council shall meet on the first day of December following each regular election under this Charter and regularly thereafter at such time as the Council may determine, but not less frequently than once each month. Until the election of a Chairman or Chairwoman, the Presiding Officer shall be the City Clerk. Special meetings of the Council shall be held upon written request to the Mayor by three members of the Council. All meetings of the Council shall be open to the public (as required by law) and the record of the proceedings shall be kept by the City Clerk and shall be open to public inspection. All votes for the approval and election of officers shall be by written ballot and all votes for the passage of resolutions and ordinances shall be by roll call vote upon the request of any member.
If the measure to begin the terms of office on the first day of December passes, then this change would set the organization of the council so it was in line with when council members took office.
- Section 4-6 of Chapter IV POWERS OF COUNCIL entitled “CANVASSING AUTHORITY”
“There shall be a Canvassing Authority as provided by the provisions of the Constitution and laws of the state. The Council shall elect one member for a term of two years, one member for a term of four years and one member for a term of six years. On the first day in November following all subsequent elections the Council shall elect a member of the Canvassing Authority for a term of six years. All powers and duties now vested in the Board of Canvassers and Registration shall vest in the Canvassing Authority. The Council may designate one member to be Clerk.”
Changing the word shall to may in the last line would give the city the option in the future of combining the duties of the Canvassing Clerk and the City Clerk.
- Section 4-14 of Chapter IV POWERS OF COUNCIL,
NEW: POWER OF THE COUNCIL TO MERGE DEPARTMENTS
“Notwithstanding any other provision of this Chapter to the contrary, the City Council shall have the authority to merge common duties, functions and/or services of any agency or department of the City and another department or agency of the City, including but not limited to any department or agency established by or enumerated in this Charter or by the Constitution and state laws.”
Section 4-14 gives a new power to the council. If passed, it gives the council the authority to merge the duties, functions and/or services departments and agencies. This would permit the merging of the city Financial Department with that of the School Committee.
- Section 6-6 of Chapter VI GENERAL ADMINISTRATIVE PROVISIONS entitled “ANNUAL REPORTS”
“The director of each department, and the head of each authority, division, board, committee, commission and bureau shall render to the City Manager an annual report in writing of the operations of their respective authorities, departments, divisions, boards, committees, commissions and bureaus, and a copy of such report shall be furnished to each member of the Council and to the City Clerk. All copies filed with the City Clerk shall be public records.
This change requires that City Authorities as well as each division, board, committee, commission and bureau submit an annual report.
- Section 9-1 of Chapter IX FINANCE entitled “FISCAL YEAR AND STRATEGIC PLAN”
“The Council shall provide by ordinance for the fiscal year of the City.”
“The Council is responsible for having, approving and adhering to a five-year strategic plan for the City and scheduling progress review workshops. The strategic plan should be updated and approved each year no later than the first council meeting in March. Implementation should be managed by the City Manager. The strategic plan will include:
* Vision and Mission Statements
* Long-term goals projecting forward at least five years
* Short-term goals with two-year projections
* Corresponding revenue and expense projections
* Milestones and individuals/departments accountable
- Performance measurements”
- “The City’s Strategic Plan will be reviewed periodically and progress reported no less often than annually at a public hearing.
The City Charter currently includes a provision for establishing and carrying out a fiscal strategic plan. This question if passed would change the elements of a strategic plan including the addition of a vision statement, simplifies the definition of long-term and short-term goals and performance measures, and increases the number of years projected for long-term and short-term goals. Finally it requires that the plan shall be reviewed annually at least once a year at a public hearing.
- Section 9-16 of Chapter IX PREPARATION OF BUDGET entitled “APPROPRIATION ORDINANCE NOT PASSED”
“If at the termination of any fiscal year the appropriations necessary for the support of the City for the ensuing fiscal year shall not be made, the several amounts appropriated in the last appropriation ordinance for the objects and purposes therein specified shall be deemed to be re-appropriated for the ensuing fiscal year. However, if a decrease in revenue for the next fiscal year is anticipated, all such appropriations shall be reduced in proportion to the anticipated revenue decrease.
The last sentence is an addition to this section. This section of the charter applies to budget appropriations. If the budget is not passed, then the charter specifies that the same amount will be re-appropriated in the following year. The last sentence specifies that if the city anticipates a decrease in income from revenue for the year that all appropriations will be reduced in proportion. In effect, if there is no budget passed and the city anticipates that revenue will be decreased, spending must decrease by a proportional amount.
- Section 10-1 of Chapter X MISCELLANEOUS entitled “TERMS OF OFFICE”
“Except for the Canvassing Authority, all elected and appointive officers elected or appointed for a definite term shall enter upon their term of office on the first day of December next following a City election, or as soon thereafter as may be practical, and shall serve until their successors are elected or appointed and qualified. All appointive officers appointed for an indefinite term shall serve until their successors are appointed and qualified.”
Currently, officials take office on the first day of January following a City election. This change moves that date to December, approximately thirty days after the election.
- Section 10-7 of Chapter X MISCELLANEOUS entitled “QUALIFICATIONS OF ELECTIVE OR APPOINTED OFFICERS”
“If any elective or appointive officer of the City or of a ward thereof shall cease to be a resident of the City or their respective ward, the office held by said elective or appointive officer shall be declared vacant. After a public hearing and for due cause, the Council shall have the power to remove any appointive officer.”
The only changes to this section are the addition of the words “or of a ward” and “or their respective ward.” This change would update the charter to ensure that elected representatives of wards remain residents of the ward during their term of office.