Charter Review Committee Citizen Minutes – 11.20.2013

Charter Review Committee — Citizen Minutes

November 20,2013

Citizen Input

 Kent Bagley, who had just found out that he was appointed to the committee about “a minute and a half ago”, was there to address the direct election of the mayor.  He said Littleton is among the few cities that does not elect the mayor directly.  (Boulder, Castle Pines, Lafayette, Morrison and Englewood do not elect a mayor either.)  He thought the citizens needed to understand the vision of the mayor and there were certain council members that citizens did not want to see appointed as mayor.  He said a directly elected mayor enhances the city’s gravitas and provides a campaign on the vision of the city.  It would provide an opportunity to bring about public change and foster a new look. (Kent Bagley was appointed to the committee by Bruce Stahlman to replace Joe Rice.)

Carol Brzeczek clarified comments made by the City Clerk at the previous meeting regarding residency requirements.  Littleton’s election followed Title 1 and as such there were no residency requirements for living in the city of Littleton to vote in the election – in other words if someone moved to Littleton on election day and had resided elsewhere in the state of Colorado for the past 22 days that person would be allowed to vote in the Littleton election.  Brzeczek met with Matt Crane, Arapahoe County Clerk, and provided a memo from him to her regarding residency requirements.  The memo follows.

Hi Carol,

Thank you for your kind words and for coming for a tour of the Elections Facility.   As we discussed, there is such a distrust around the voting process. I wish more people would come to see how the process works here in Arapahoe County.  Our doors will always be open to help educate our citizens, which I hope will build public trust and confidence in our system.

My responses to your questions are in blue following each question:

1. With the implementation of HB1303 into Title 1 for the Nov. 5th election, what were the residency requirements for state elections?

HB 1303 changed the residency requirements for federal and state elections.  For people who have never been registered to vote in the state of Colorado, the minimum residency requirement is now 22 days in State.  There are no longer any precinct residency requirements. 

2. With the implementation of HB1303 into Title 1 for the Nov. 5th election, what were the residency requirements for the Littleton city-wide elections?

For the November 5, 2013 Coordinated Election, the city of Littleton opted to follow the residency requirements of Title 1.  We met with the city of Littleton to discuss this decision and they are of the opinion that they are compliant with state statute.  The County Attorney’s Office and I agree with the City’s assessment

3. What do you anticipate in the way of a fix for the problems that HB1303 created with the 22 day in-state residency requirements?

It is my understanding that legislation will be introduced during the 2014 session that will seek to make all residency and registration requirements the same for all elections, including federal and state, coordinated, municipal, school director, school tax, and special district elections. I have not heard who the sponsors will be and have not seen any drafts as of yet.

4. If the city of Littleton places a 30 day residency requirement in our Charter will Littleton and Arapahoe County still be able to enter into an agreement for coordinated elections?

Yes, we would still be able to enter into an agreement for coordinated elections if Littleton adopts a mandatory 30 day residency requirement.  There will be significant administrative hurdles

to overcome, but we would work with the city to do so.  Here are some of the major hurdles involved:

A.      The statewide voter registration system (SCORE) does not allow for different residency requirements for a specific election.  This means Arapahoe County and the City of Littleton would have to create policies and procedures specific to the city of Littleton which may present opportunities for human error and additional cost for the city of Littleton.

B.      The voter registration forms approved for use in the state of Colorado contain a voter affidavit pursuant to the requirements of Title 1, not Title 31 or the Littleton Charter.  If Littleton decides to have different requirements, we would need to discuss with the state if a new voter registration form is necessary.  We are only allowed to use forms approved for use by the Colorado Department of State.

C.      The on-line voter registration system currently does not have a field for date of residency.  The Colorado Department of State would have to add this field.

D.      We would need to create two sets of ballot styles for the city of Littleton.  One set of ballot styles would contain all contests/questions for the city, based on a person residing in the city at least 30 days. The second set of ballot styles would need to omit the contests/questions certified by the city of Littleton for voters that moved into the city after the 30 day deadline. 

As I mentioned above, these are just a few of the hurdles we would need to plan for if Littleton opted for a different residency deadline.   

I hope I have sufficiently answered your questions.  If you need any further information, please let me know.

 

Best,

Matt

Matt Crane | Arapahoe County Clerk & Recorder

5334 S. Prince St. | Littleton, CO 80120-1136

Direct: 303.795.4239  | Cell:  303.908.3688 | Fax: 303.794.4625

mcrane@arapahoegov.com | www.arapahoevotes.com

 

Brzeczek also asked the group to postpone making any final decisions on the finance portion of the Charter as mentioned on the agenda.  She believed it would be beneficial to the group to have a discussion as to whether or not they are tweaking, updating, rewriting or gutting the charter before making any final decisions.  She suggested that all final decisions not be made until there has been a complete review of the Charter.  She asked them to be mindful that the document exists to protect the citizens by laying out specific standards, processes and safeguards that will serve as guidance for councils now and in the future.  Anything that is removed from the Charter will be subject to change with each newly seated council

Jack Randall, who has been video taping the meetings told the group that their efforts deserve to be recorded and on Channel 8 for public viewing.  (The meeting was held in the Community room at the city center and the video taping capabilities are there – they just need to be used.)

Minutes were approved as amended.

Michael Penny referred the group back to their charge that directs the group to make policy recommendations and not to craft charter language.  With regard to the finance portion of the charter it would mean do we move to more restrictive and limiting language?  He was asked by Brian Vogt if the council will craft the language and Penny said council will probably create another process.

Kristin Schledorn, city attorney, asked how they should handle the authority of the city manger to transfer money.  Norm Brown pointed out section 78 that states 5 votes were required.  He also wanted to know how other charters deal with this sort of action.  Doug Farmen said he had not seen any other charters that required a super majority.  Vogt wanted an example in order to better understand the concept.  Brown mentioned the $11 million water fund – money that was collected for Two Forks but Two Forks never happened leaving a large sum of money in an account that was not going to be spent for the purpose it was collected.  (The water fund money was used to fund the addition to the city center that houses the police.  The money was moved from the water fund but it required a super majority vote of the council in order to transfer the money.  The remaining $5 million has been used for other expenditures over the years.  I am not certain if there’s any of the water fund money remaining.)

Karen Millspaugh suggested that the language remain in the charter.  Susan Thornton thought a super majority should only be required for something very important and she did not see this as important.

Penny reminded them of their charge – you could say, as a policy, do we need a super majority to transfer money.

Steve Brainerd was struggling without an example – perhaps a super majority is needed.

Vogt said without examples it was difficult – is the language obsolete from a time when budgets were done differently?

Brown said we did not have Enterprise Funds before TABOR.  He would state the policy statement as should super majority requirements be reserved for extraordinary situations?

Stew Meagher asked if the council was asking them to address the form of governance.  Policy governance is a form of government – city council creates policy.  Are we being asked to move to best practices?

Penny referred back to the charge – he did not know if they were being asked to look at the type of government.  Do you want more enabling language or more restrictive language – that is what he thought their task was.

Vogt thought a grouping of changes might be the way to go.  Changes to meet the changes in our constitution, policy questions lumped together philosophical versus technical points

Kim Field brought back the point made at the last meeting about the timing of financial reports from monthly to periodic – do we really want to do that?

Doug Farmen, finance director, asked the group about the use of the word designee which led to a question about personnel policies.  (There appears to be an effort, from staff, to eliminate restrictive language in the charter for language that appears in other policies within the city.  This would lead to language that could be changed with each new council rather than language that would guide all councils about certain behavior and functions of the city government.  Example:  the charter has a job description for the city manager; because it is in the city charter it is an absolute.  If the group suggests the elimination of the job description in the charter then the job description could be in a constant state of change.)

Leonard Rice asked about how the citizens would access the personnel policies saying they needed to be available to protect the citizens.  Brown wanted to know if there was a compelling reason to strike the language.  Rice said he assumed the language is stricken because it is covered elsewhere

Schledorn went on to Section 93 that limits contracts made by the city to no longer than two years unless authorized by ordinance.  She said this requirement sometimes leads to more expense.  If a contract is needed for more than two years this requirement requires them to go to city council for approval, which can take too long.  She asked the group how staff can best serve the committee with the development of their policy statements.

Vogt suggested that the technical questions be separated from the philosophical questions.  Meagher asked for good structural definition – a resolve to respect transparency and citizen access.

Sally Parson, chair of the group, said a lot is under the ethics code and it does not need to stay in the charter.  (This sort of change in direction is as mentioned above  – elimination of the charter language in favor of policy would mean a constant change in protections that were afforded to the citizens of Littleton by the charter.)

Bill Long said he wanted to know why it would be taken out and where it is available elsewhere.

Brainerd wanted to see a format that would include all changes in one document – get creative with the highlighting.

Here are some categories:

  • Philosophy – what triggers super majority?
  • Publication vs posting
  • Residency requirements
  • Running for office

Long asked what would happen if TABOR was repealed – would there be a need for a charter update?

Schledorn said yes and it could happen.  You may want to keep language in the charter just in case or put something similar to what Castle Rock has done.  (Castle Rock has a statement in their charter to cover the repeal of TABOR if it should happen.)

Meagher wanted more discussion on mayor.  Thornton said it would need a good discussion.

 

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