A group of community members and civic leaders who serve on the city’s Charter Review Committee released their preliminary report on Wednesday morning. The report, though not finalized was released to allow the public a chance to review specific proposals and provide feedback to the committee and the city on the recommended changes.
The ten member committee has some pretty well known local names and one experienced city government powerhouse. Toby Hammett Futrell retired from the City of Austin, where she was a trusted member of the city government. She herself served from December 2001 until 2008 as Austin City Manager.
The committee also included some reasonable voices such as Chad McGill, Bob White and John Wilson. Other members of the committee included Oscar Martinez, Rick Milby, Aaron Munoz, and Shirley Thornton, who is a well local educator and member of the Flour Bluff ISD Board of Trustees. Overall, you can see that the committee has some experience and some know how built up behind it. Many would likely argue that it could be the most well-rounded committee yet, at least when it comes to such an important idea.
One of the most impressive items on the proposal is the matter of financial transparency. Recommendation Number Three on the report would expand the reporting of contracts under $50,000 dollars for further inspection through what they are calling a “City Financial Policy Amendment.”
Another positive recommendation from the committee is that they are suggesting is to have an amendment to the city’s Financial Policy that would require intradepartmental budget transfers within the same fund to be included in the City’s Quarterly Budget Report which is presented to Council every three months and maintain on the City’s website for public review.
One thing that city leaders must do is restore trust in their local government and the officials and the analysis seems to lend towards that end.
Other equally as notable positions include the revised term of office standards for the Mayor and City Council. The proposal that the committee is setting forth suggests that no person shall serve more than four terms as a council member, more than four terms as a mayor or more than six terms in a combination of said offices. Term limits would be lifetime term limits. If a person serves one or more days of any term, that service shall be considered service for the entirely of the term.
Our analysis is that that an extended term would give council members and/or the mayor a better chance to learn their given roles and set forth a more stable and effective platform. It obviously takes time to learn the job, so why not give it to them before they have to start worrying about re-election?
Of course none of this is set in stone just yet and the reason that the committee report was released is to allow citizens to provide input into the proposed changes. Citizens can do that by Visiting the city’s Charter Review Committee link.
Citizens can also read the entire report which contains an entire overview of the proposals and recommendations City’s website.