Voters in Galveston La Marque and Friendswood are facing proposed amendments to the cities’ charters.
City of Galveston
No. 1 is an attempt to clarify the charter’s language on term limits. The charter is supposed to say a person can serve up to six years as a council member and up to six years as mayor for a total of 12 uninterrupted years. Others contend a person could hold office more or less perpetually alternating between council member and mayor. This would require a six-year break after 12 years.
No. 2 would increase the term of office for mayor and council from two to three years.
No. 3 would amend the charter to conform to state law with respect to the mayor’s emergency management powers.
No. 4 would more explicitly define residency requirements for city council members.
No. 5 would prohibit members of council from being employed by the parks board or wharves board while serving on the city council and for up to two years afterward.
No. 6 would amend the charter to conform with state election law.
No. 7 would create a capital improvement or debt service account. If this passes eventually up to 8 percent of the general fund operating budget would be earmarked for capital improvements.
No. 8 would exclude previously appropriated capital improvements funds in the calculation that caps the annual budget increase. If the city appropriated a lot of money to a big capital project but didn’t spend it all in the fiscal year officials would not have to count the money for a second year in calculating the cap on annual budget increases.
No. 9 would repeal the 7 percent cap on annual spending increases in the charter.
No. 10 would increase the authority of the city manager to make purchases and enter into contracts in a declared emergency.
No. 11 would remove debt from under the tax cap.
No. 12 would require paid appointed officers of the city and employees to resign before running for public office.
No. 13 is an attempt to prohibit vote swapping by members of the city council.
No. 14 would prohibit members of boards and committees from being employed by that organization while they are serving and for up to two years afterward.
No. 15 would apply term limits to members of city boards.
No. 16 would apply residency requirements term limits open meeting requirements and all the other usual rules of government to administrative and advisory boards and other political subdivisions of the city.
No. 17 would apply the same residency and domicile requirements that stand for the city council to members of city boards.
City of La Marque
No. 1 would clean up a mess created when the city changed the terms of council members to three years. That change left other parts of the charter — the provisions for special elections to fill vacancies on the council for example — in conflict with the state Constitution.
No. 2 would require three affirmative votes on the five-member council to pass a resolution or ordinance. When the council was gridlocked and members were skipping meetings to avoid certain votes the question came up whether an ordinance could pass on a 2-1 vote with just three members present. This spells it out that it takes at least three votes.
No. 3 would require the city clerk who has reported directly to the council in the past to report to the city manager.
No. 4 would allow the city to make copies of new laws available at city hall rather than having to publish the text in a newspaper ad.
No. 5 would allow the city council on a second vote on an ordinance to read just the caption as opposed to the entire ordinance. However any council member could request a full reading.
No. 6 would eliminate the requirement to republish the text of an ordinance — if it is amended — in a newspaper ad.
No. 7 would require the city to publish the caption of an adopted ordinance that summarizes the subject matter of the ordinance and any penalties for violating it rather than publishing the full text of the law.
No. 8 would require election by majority rather than plurality.
No. 9 would specify what happens if voters bring legislation to the council through an initiative process but the council fails to act on it. It provides that the petition would be put before the voters on the next election date.
No. 10 would repeal a provision in the charter requiring that the city clerk’s signature must be on each page of a recall petition.
No. 11 would increase the number of signatures required for a recall petition to 51 percent of the voters in a district.
No. 12 would specifically state if the council didn’t act on a valid voter petition any voter could ask for a judge’s writ.
No. 13 would require the city to publish information on its budget and public hearings on the budget.
No. 14 spells out that budget amendments can be made after the budget is approved.
No. 15 would require that all offices at city hall get copies of the budget.
No. 16 would authorize the city to put a clear summary of the budget on top of the budget.
No. 17 spells out that the city finance director could work with the appraisal district in performing assessment duties.
No. 18 states that department heads no longer would be required to submit to the city manager a work program for the year showing the requested allotments or appropriations for the office.
No. 19 would bring the charter into line with the state’s tax code which allows the city to contract for the collection of taxes.
No. 20 would clear up a caption in the charter that refers to the municipal court.
No. 21 would repeal the minimum staffing requirement of 25 police officers from the charter.
No. 22 would amend the section of the charter on the charter review commission requiring that it meet at least every five years.
City of Friendswood
No. 1 would amend the glossary of terms to correct the definition of ”department head.”
No. 2 would add a new section on ”Limitation of liability for damages” to bring the charter into compliance with state law.
No. 3 would clarify the time of appointment of the mayor pro tem at the next regular city council meeting following the canvass of election returns.
No. 4 would provide more flexibility for the city council in establishing the days and times of its regular meetings.
No. 5 would provide clarification of the residents opportunity to be heard before council on any matter.
No. 6 would specify that a majority of city council is required for obtaining city attorney approval on the form of a proposed ordinance.
No. 7 would provide that ordinances would be furnished to the city council posted and made available to the public at least 72 hours before first reading instead of one week.
No. 8 would reduce the time elapsing between required readings of ordinances to provide for at least one week between readings instead of at two weeks.
No. 9 would allow the council without approval of the voters to adopt an ordinance that provides only for non-substantive revisions and reorganizations in the charter. There is no provision that allows council to correct errors in spelling cross-references punctuation or numbering of articles or sections in the charter without approval of the voters.
No. 10 would require a supermajority of city council to appoint or remove the city manager instead of the majority vote.
No. 11 would increase the required amounts of disclosure of candidates for elective office from $10 to $50. Such disclosure would include fees salaries or gifts received from companies or individuals under contract with the city during the 12 months before filing for public office.
No. 12 would allow the city council to designate the official newspaper biennially instead of annually.
SOURCES: Cities of Galveston La Marque and Friendswood