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Term limits, reimbursement among charter propositions - The Galveston County Daily News : Local News

November 27, 2014

Term limits, reimbursement among charter propositions

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Posted: Wednesday, August 13, 2014 11:10 pm

LA MARQUE — Voters will weigh in on 10 proposed changes to the city’s charter, including getting rid of term limits for the mayor and council and allowing reimbursement of certain expenses for elected officials.

The council approved placing the 10 propositions on the Nov. 4 ballot.

The majority of the measures are meant to clarify and simplify the language in the charter, follow recommendations made by the Texas Municipal League and make the charter agree with state law. But when the council approved the propositions Monday members spent the majority of their time discussing two propositions.

Proposition 4 would get rid of term limits for council and mayor, and Proposition 5 would allow them to be reimbursed for “approved expenses incurred during the course of their duties.”

According to the city charter, council members do not get paid a salary. During the discussion council members expressed concern that residents would read Proposition 5, which reads “Members of the City Council may be reimbursed or approved expenses incurred during the course of their duties as prescribed by City Ordinance,” and think they were trying to change that.

But Councilman Keith Bell reiterated that the mayor and council would continue to serve without a salary. But, if approved, Proposition 5 would allow them to be reimbursed for certain preapproved expenses.

Mayor Bobby Hocking said he and the council members each get $50 a month now that goes toward expenses. If the proposition were approved the council would be able to set a new limit and approved expenses by passing an ordinance.

“The proposition’s goal is to allow for reimbursement so that we can encourage citizens to run for office,” Bell said.

Councilwoman Connie Trube expressed concern over trying to entice people to run for office with the promise of reimbursement or compensation. But Bell said holding office can come with a lot of expenses and allowing for reimbursement could encourage someone to run for office who was worried about paying for things such as gas to get around town or cellphone bills or going to conferences.

Term limits was another topic of discussion for the council. Currently, someone in the council or mayor’s seat can only serve for three consecutive three-year terms. If voters approve Proposition 4 that limitation will be scrapped.

“We trying to make it easier for our constituents to keep those representatives who have served you well,” said Councilman Keith Bell.

Ron Crowder, the chairman of the city’s charter review committee, said the term limit is on election day when voters can get rid of current elected officials and elect new ones.

“Term limits have the ability to get rid of good council members or good mayors,” Crowder said.

Bell, who is serving his third term on the council, said residents can get rid of bad or underperforming elected officials every three years at election time or with a recall election.

“If you like you council representative, you can continue to support him or her,” Bell said. “If there are serious problems with your council member, then you still have the tool of recall.”

At a glance

La Marque voters will vote on 10 proposed charter amendments on Nov. 4.

  • Proposition 1 clarifies language on the city’s boundaries and limits.
  • Proposition 2 clarifies language on annexation.
  • Proposition 3 clarifies language on disannexation.
  • Proposition 4 would get rid of term limits for mayor and council.
  • Proposition 5 would allow mayor and council to be reimbursed for certain expenses.
  • Proposition 6 would clarify that the city would follow the Texas Election Code and Constitution in the event of a tie in a runoff election.
  • Proposition 7 would allow the city to use the same bank for up to three years.
  • Proposition 8 clarifies language regarding personal interest in city business.
  • Proposition 9 would allow for the city to adopt a Code of Ethics for all elected officers, board members, committee members, employees and volunteers of the city.
  • Proposition 10 would allow the council to set the number of members on the planning and zoning commission.