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Wood Village seeks to update city charter

Changes will be referred to voters in May election


The Wood Village City Council intended to refer two city charter changes to the May ballot — essentially updating the charter to reflect current state law — but to avoid controversy, only one ballot measure will move forward.

The charter code has not been updated since 2002. Multiple changes are therefore necessary to modernize the charter — for example, changing the city administrator to title to city manager.

Wood Village changed the duties of its city administrator to a city manager in 2002, but did not change the title.

“There is a common definition in local government circles that an administrator is someone who typically works for a mayor or council, but has limited duties,” said City Administrator Bill Peterson. “It doesn't change any powers of the position.”

The local election section also needs updates.

“It's been preempted by statutes,” Peterson noted.

In the past, each city had control over its elections, but those are now controlled by the state.

“Since then, nothing in our city charter is legal, because it conflicts with state law," he said.

But all of these changes were just “housekeeping," Peterson noted, adding there was really only one issue that was substantive.

“Voters approved an amendment to the charter that prohibits sales taxes,” he said. “They wrote the language in such a confusing way that you can't tell what all it prohibits. All we're trying to do is prohibit sales taxes. That's what the people thought they were voting on, and that's what we want to make sure it says.”

But the council decided to not pursue that ballot measure at its Tuesday, Feb. 24, meeting, and removed it from consideration.

“The City Council was very concerned that there be literally no controversial portions of the referred amendments," Peterson said, "and that every part of what the voters would see in May is simply correcting the archaic language of the current charter, eliminating conflicts with state or federal law, and renaming the chief administrative official to city manager. “In this approach, there are no policy issues or potential concerns in the proposal. It is purely housekeeping.”

That ballot measure is due March 23 for the voters pamphlet and will be mailed to voters on April 29 for the Tuesday, May 19, special election.

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