The City Council fell a vote short of the majority needed to establish a Charter Revision Commission on Monday.
The council voted 4-2 in favor of creating the commission. According to state statute, the measure needed a two-thirds majority—or five votes—in order to pass.
An affirmative vote would have established a seven-member commission, with each councilor appointing a member. Councilors also would have recommended areas of the charter for possible revision and recommended dates for the commission to submit a draft report.
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Voters , with the most notable change being the transition of city government from an appointed city manager to an elected strong mayor. Councilor John Maynard said that he opposed this charter revision in 2010, but that the proposal for new revisions will not alter the form of government. He said he spoke with Mayor Daryl Finizio, who agreed that clarifications are needed.
“I think there’s a lot of language in the charter that needs to be fixed,” said Maynard.
Councilor Adam Sprecace said the council will have a final say on the charter commission recommendations. He said he would like it to address matters such as the definition of a contract, the question of whether the council can remove a law director appointed by the mayor and confirmed by the council, and the provision that a mayoral veto can only be overturned by the vote of six of the seven councilors.
Sprecace said he was also concerned with vague language such as the provision allowing the mayor to call a special council meeting due to “public necessity.” He said this leads to differing interpretations of sections of the charter.
“My intentions in supporting this are to be more specific,” said Sprecace.
Councilor Anthony Nolan said he was concerned with the possibility of changing the charter only two years after the last change.
“I think it’s premature into the year,” said Nolan. “We haven’t given ourselves or the administration a chance to settle in and see what can be done.”
Sprecace’s initial motion proposed a five-member commission, but this number was later amended to seven to allow each councilor to recommend a member. Council President Michael Passero proposed increasing the number to 14, but an amendment to do so failed 1-6 with only Passero in favor.
Councilor Donald Macrino was absent, and a vote to table the measure until a full council was available failed in a 3-3 tie with Maynard, Passero, and Councilor Marie Friess-McSparran in favor and Nolan, Sprecace, and Council President Pro Tempore Wade Hyslop opposed.
In the final vote, Friess-McSparran, Maynard, Passero, and Sprecace were in favor while Hyslop and Nolan were opposed.