by Walker County News Today staff
Limitations on issuance of new debt by the city council was the main topic of discussion at the charter review committee meeting on Wednesday, May 2. Section 11.17 of the city charter, which voters approved to be added to the charter in 2009, limits the amount of new debt that can be issued by council without voter approval to no more than .002 of the net taxable value applicable to the city tax roll for the fiscal year in which the funds are approved. Currently the .002 limit translates to approximately $3.2 million. Any debt issuance beyond that ceiling would have to be approved by the electorate.
Acting city manager Aron Kulhavy expressed his concerns with this charter provision stating, “You can’t buy anything for $3 million.” Kulhavy, along with city financial director Steve Ritter and committee members Keith Olson, Jane Monday and Clyde Loll, discussed the pros and cons of this charter provision recognizing that while the statute may rein in excessive spending and debt, the limit of .002 of the tax base is too restrictive and should be increased or even eliminated all together.
The city charter is the document that governs all of the city’s activities, except for that specifically called out in state law. A charter review committee must be formed at least once every five years to review the charter. This committee will present recommendations for charter changes to city council later this summer. Council will then decide what amendments will ultimately be put in front of voters for their approval in November.
The committee has scheduled meetings which are open to the public on the first and third Wednesday of each month at 4:00 pm at city hall. The next scheduled meeting is Wednesday, May 16.