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Flower Mound council endorses charter amendments

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Flower Mound Town Hall. Photo by Bill Castleman
Flower Mound Town Hall. Photo by Bill Castleman

Flower Mound voters will have an additional list of items on the November ballot; Town Charter Amendments.

During its Aug. 4 meeting, Town Council members accepted some of the recommendations authored by the Charter Review Committee (CRC) as presented, and tinkered with a couple and added their own.

The amendment most requested by residents involves a procedure for the process of addressing Charter Violations. The CRC recommended nine steps, but the council felt an additional step—presented as 2a—should be inserted, bringing the total to 10 steps.

The next Charter amendment council members discussed did not fall under the CRC recommendations; but, had been raised during CRC chairperson Jody Smith’s presentation of the committee’s recommendations during the council’s July 18 meeting—revising Mayor and council member term limits.

The current Town Charter sets two-year terms, with the Mayor, Place 2 and Place 4 elected in even-numbered years, while Places 1, 3 and 5 are elected in odd-number years. The total limit of service is six consecutive years total, which was set in the 2012 Charter election.

Following a lengthy discussion, the consensus was for an eventual transition from three places elected every other year for two-year terms, to two three-year terms elected, with a total of two consecutive terms (for a total of six years), unless a change of position from council member to Mayor occurs, which begins a new term of service.

Council member Itamar Gelbman was the only council member speaking in opposition to making a change

“I wouldn’t touch that,” said Gelbman. “It’s opening a Pandora’s box.”

He pointed to how successful the U.S. House of Representatives has been at conducting business with two-year terms.

Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Bryan Webb said having only two seats [one-third of council] up for election at a time, rather than three seats [one-half of council] up for election could prevent so much impact and division on town issues.

“If you have two people [places] running for three-year terms, the stakes are reduced,” he said. “It calms things down and I think that benefits the community.”

Mayor Tom Hayden agreed and added the opinion voiced by Smith—speaking on July18 as a former mayor herself—that a three-year term allows an officeholder more time to accomplish work and also provides better continuity for town staff.

Council member Jason Webb said moving to three-year terms might convince additional candidates to run for office if they didn’t need to run again only two years later.

Town Attorney Bryn Meredith presented a possible transition plan to be implemented beginning with the 2017 election for Places 1, 3 and 5. Because Jason Webb was elected to serve only one year in Place 1, that seat would be elected for the first three-year term—not up for re-election until 2020; while Places 3 and 5 will serve two-year terms—re-elected in 2019 for their first three-year terms, which would then be up for re-election in 2022.

In the 2018 election, the Mayoral seat would be for a three-year term, and Places 2 and 4 candidates would split term length—one seat would join the mayor to begin a three-year term, while the other seat would be for a two-year term. The current council members seated in Places 2 and 4, Bryan Webb and Don McDaniel, agreed to draw straws to determine– prior to the opening date for candidate filing– which seat will be which term length.

As listed above, in 2019 Places 3 and 5 will be elected to their first three-year terms.

In 2020, Place 1 and either Place 2 or 4 (whichever Place was elected for a two-year term in 2018) will be elected for three-year terms.

In 2021, The Mayor and either Place 2 or 4 (whichever Place was elected for a three-year term in 2018) will be elected for three-year terms.

The transition process sounds more complicated than it would actually be in application. [Editor: the fact the author can understand the rolling transition enough to write about it is proof.]

For length-of-service in consecutive terms, the wording would be for “two regular terms;” which, for three-year terms, would also equal the current six-year total.

Another Charter Amendment council members, except for Gelbman, had advocated to change was the current 15-percent of registered voters needed to initiate an election recall, as well as an initiative for a referendum.

The new percentages recommended as a Charter Amendment by four (a supermajority) of the council will be a more-attainable five-percent of total registered voters for a referendum initiative; and, 50-percent plus one of the total votes cast in the specific election for recall.

The 10 Steps for a Process of Addressing Charter Violations

  1. Written sworn complaint is made by a member of Town Council;
  2. Complaint presented to Mayor (if against Mayor, then to Mayor Pro Tem) and a copy of the charge(s) is given to the accused council member/Mayor;

*2a. Complaint is brought forward at the next council meeting to decide if it should be a  future agenda item at the next regular meeting– in accordance with Council Rules of Procedure for future agenda items;

  1. Public Hearing date set;
  2. Council member/Mayor charged notified to appear on that day;
  3. Council is the authority to hear the case and a supermajority (four of five council members) is needed to make a determination of the misconduct and whether charges are sufficient to cause a removal from office;
  4. Presiding officer enters the judgment removing the charged council member/Mayor and declaring the office vacant;
  5. If charged council member/Mayor found not guilty, the judgment shall be entered accordingly;
  6. However, if removed from office under this process, that person would not be eligible for re-election to any office for two-years after the date of the removal; and
  7. If a vacancy is the result, the rules in section 3.03.1 of the Charter will apply to fill the vacancy. [A process which was followed after the May 2015 election when Brian Rountree resigned in October 2015, council appointed Mark Wise the fill the vacant Place 1 seat, until the special election in May 2016 electing Jason Webb to complete the remaining year of the two-year term.]

*Added by council members for inclusion

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