March 19, 2014

City looking at Home Rule Charter options

The city council has formed a committee to look into adoption of a home rule charter. Home rule is a granting of certain powers to cities by a state legislature to allow the cities more opportunities to make decisions about the issues that affect them. The committee will look at the powers available to the City of Center, determine which should be included in the home rule charter, and then submit the proposed charter to the voters for approval in an election.
Committee chair J.D. Hanson and member John Green appeared before the council to report on the committee’s progress. Hanson told council members that the committee had met, and its members are reviewing background information, process and procedures for implementing home rule, and sample charters. He also provided a list of information the committee needs in order to begin drafting a proposed charter. The proposed charter will be presented at a public hearing for comment and discussion.
“I’m hoping that the public meetings will generate questions for us, so people will bring concerns to us about needed projects,” Mayor Sandy Olin said.
The council began looking at a home rule charter as a means to address major city infrastructure projects like the aging sewer and water systems.
“We have sewer lines that are at least 50 years old,” Olin said. “If they go, we’ll really be in a [funding] bind.”
Currently, the only available means to fund repairs to these systems is to place special assessments on the affected properties. In researching a home rule charter, the city is seeking a responsible alternative to prepare financially for infrastructure projects and other potential needs that won’t put excessive burden on city residents.
“Just like a family needs a rainy day fund, so does the city,” Olin said. “It’s not enough to just balance [the budget]. It’s not enough to just live paycheck to paycheck. We need to have funding in place for emergencies.”


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