• September 18, 2014

Killeen to OK ballot propositions

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Posted: Tuesday, February 5, 2013 4:30 am

The Killeen City Council will meet today to approve amendments for the May 11 charter election ballot.

All proposed amendments must be approved by the Justice Department before the election. The charter — which details the fundamental legal framework of the city — cannot be changed without voter approval.

Over four months, starting in October, the council reviewed all 152 sections of the charter in open workshop sessions with the city’s legal staff and conducted four public hearings.

During last week’s final workshop on the charter, the council voted by consensus to place 30 propositions on the May ballot.

A major impetus for the council’s plans to amend the charter was a crucial set of inconsistencies found in Section 113 — the section detailing procedures for petitioning for recall of elected city officials.

Inconsistencies in the section limited the city’s ability to regulate the 2011 recall election, which ultimately removed five of the seven council members.

The planned Proposition 26 in the proposed charter election overhauls the section’s legal ambiguities; however, it also stipulates that only district residents may sign recall petitions for their own district council members.

Residents would be allowed to sign recall petitions for at-large council members and members of their district only, under the proposal.

Mayor Dan Corbin said the changes reflect the opinions of those who testified during the public hearings, most of whom supported the current single-member district system.

“I don’t think it will be controversial,” Corbin said.

If Proposition 26 fails, the section will remain in legal ambiguity until a future council elects to change it.

By state law, the council can only hold a charter election every two years.

“I have a lot of faith in the collective wisdom of the people and that they will decide what is most logical for the city,” Corbin said.

The most controversy surrounding the charter election has not been through debates about specific propositions but whether the large number of propositions will confuse voters.

Corbin said the reason the number of propositions is so high is because the council’s process for reviewing the charter was different from in previous charter elections.

“Councils in the past appointed committees to review the charter and no council members looked at it at all,” Corbin said.

“We had a strong enough work ethic to carefully read over the entire charter, sentence by sentence, line by line.”

The most expansive changes are unsubstantial because the language of the document created in 1949 is either outdated, redundant or superseded by state law.

City Secretary Paula Miller said the extra long ballot will be shared by the regular election of four district council seats, and the city has allotted $1,000 for extra printing costs.

“(The charter elections) will increase the cost of the election,” Miller said.

Miller said the charter propositions will likely expand the ballot from one page to between two and four pages.

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