Big Spring Charter Committee Holds First Meeting

by Mike Henry
KBYG - Special to NewsWest9

BIG SPRING - A special committee appointed by Big Spring City Council to review the city's current charter and look at term limits for elected city officials held its first meeting Thursday evening.

The committee is made up of several city council members, two city staffers and two Big Spring residents. The first order of business was to elect a chair person and the committee members selected Peggy Walker. The two main reasons for the committee being formed are related to a request from Mayor Duncan and city councilman Olson to look at term limits for elected city officials, as well as what is called "initiative and referendum."

The special committee began looking at potential ballot wording should term limits and or initiative and referendum go before voters in May, which is the plan according to Mayor Duncan.

Basically the current concept on city council term limits before the special committee Thursday would limit a city council member or mayor to hold two consecutive three year terms, and then that individual would have to hold off for two more full terms before running for that particular office again.

On "initiative and referendum", the proposal would allow for Big Spring citizens to do two basic actions: 1) it would allow a provision that citizens could attempt to reverse or stop a project put forth by city council. This would be accomplished by a petition and bring that matter before voters if at least 50% of the registered voters in a previous election or no less than 1,000 people signed. 2) it would allow citizens to prevent a single item expenditure by the city if that expenditure is greater than $1,000,000 and a petition is signed by 20% of the registered voters or no less than 700 persons.

This provision would exclude necessary things like infrastructure and standard operating budgets approved by city council. The committee Thursday began discussing details and alternative wording of the these two major city charter proposals, and then went on to review other features of the current city charter that need updating.

Some of those included boundaries and annexation, city council qualifications, veto powers, and old and outdated city charter language that no longer applies to modern times or isn't compliant with federal and state laws.

The special city charter committee will meet again in the near future. City council will hear and vote on any recommendations that come out of the committee, and some of those items could go before Big Spring voters for approval in May, 2011.