Charter change?: Mount Angel council sends revisions to voters for approval

October 2014 Posted in Community, News

By Brenna Wiegand

Measure 24-370
Mount Angel City Charter updates

The measure to amend, update and
renumber the Mount Angel City Charter,
last updated in 1982, includes many
amendments.

A few of the changes
to the charter include:

Require voter approval of annexations.

Require an affirmative vote by the
majority of the entire Mount Angel
City Council (rather than those
present at a meeting) in order
for Council to take action.

Make the mayor a voting member
of the council.

Clarify city officers are
appointed and removed by the
city council, rather than by
the mayor with the council’s consent.

Add the positions of city manager
and city attorney as officers of
the city and add language setting
out the duties of the city manager
and the city attorney.

Assign the duties of the city
recorder to the city manager.

Clarify that city elections
are nonpartisan.

If approved, the revised charter
takes effect Jan. 1, 2015.

To review the entire proposed charter,
visit Mount Angel City Hall
at 5 N. Garfield St.

Perhaps the most remarkable detail about the proposed Mount Angel Charter Amendment has to do with who helped prepare it for ballot. For Pete Wall, a city councilor on the City Charter Committee, the painstaking process was déjà vu.

Wall was Mount Angel’s city administrator in 1982 – the last time the charter was revised. He started out his city management career here, serving from 1981 to 1986 before moving on to positions in Wilsonville and beyond, returning to Mount Angel upon his retirement in 2007 to be closer to family. He plunged right into city government, serving as interim city manager in 2009 and is currently on the city council.

“We felt the charter needed to be updated to reflect how we currently operate our city,” Wall said. “Some of the stuff is just minor housekeeping.” For instance, he said, “he/she” has replaced all the instances where “he” occurs.

“We haven’t had a municipal just that was a ‘he’ for decades,” Wall said.

With a neutral facilitator guiding the process, charter review committee members Wall, Teresa Kintz, Karl Bischoff, Jim Kosel, Don Fleck and Becki Thomas started with a goal-setting session in January and met several times after that, going through the document with a fine-toothcomb.

“It went through some pretty strenuous review from the committee, a legal review and altogether we’ve been very careful in taking all necessary steps to make it a solid document,” Wall said. “It has undergone a lot of scrutiny and is a solid piece of work.”

A charter, he explained, is essentially a city’s equivalent of the U.S. Constitution, laying out in broad terms the workings of its government.

For instance, in the former charter the mayor didn’t have a vote on issues unless it was a tie.

“The majority of us thought it was important for the mayor to vote on all issues and express his/her opinion,” Wall said.

Further, in order for a City Council decision to be valid, a majority of its members must be present at the time of a vote.

Another amendment requires voter approval of annexations – something the city’s already been doing for about 10 years. A 2005 newsletter of the group “Oregon Cities for a Voice in Annexations” reported:

“On Sept. 20, Mount Angel taxpayers joined the growing number of Oregon citizens and 30 other OCVA member cities who have the right to vote on annexations. Rick Schiedler, Jeff Wall  and Mike Donohue quickly collected 222 signatures and got the measure on the ballot. In spite of the opponents’ usual fear-mongering, the measure passed by a 3:1 margin.

“The greatest benefit to voting is that developers will have to come in with something that’s beneficial to all of us,” Schiedler said.

“In the 1982 charter we didn’t have votes on annexations,” Wall said. “When the referendum passed it was an amendment to the charter… We just put that language in the main charter.”

Changing city administrator Eileen Stein’s title to city manager has nothing to do with a change in salary or job duties and is not a promotion, Wall noted; it just clarifies and formalizes the job description and is more in keeping with the norm. It will do away with the city administrator title.

Jim Kosel, a community representative on the charter committee, moved to Mount Angel about seven years ago, bringing with him years of experience writing bylaws for community planning organizations in Clackamas County. In 2006 he started the process of putting a measure on the ballot to increase the number of Clackamas County Commissioners from three to five, which passed.

“I enjoy city government and seeing where things can be modified,” Kosel said. “The League of Oregon Cities has a model city charter that a city can take and modify. We used the model as the baseline for what we were doing … it was very helpful for us.”

He said he feels very good about the finished product.

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