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Huntsville Charter Review Continues

by Walker County News Today staff

The Charter Review Committee for the City of Huntsville met Wednesday, Feb. 21 at City Hall. Committee members Keith Olson, Jane Monday, and Dalene Zender were present. Absent were committee members Clyde Loll and Tyler McCaffety. City secretary Lee Woodward and deputy city secretary Brenda Poe provided staff support along with interim city manager Aron Kulhavy.

The committee, which was appointed by Mayor Andy Brauninger in November 2017, continued their systematic review from previous meetings by assessing Articles IV, V, and VI of the City’s charter.

Several sections of Article IV “The Council” were discussed including terms limits, removal of council members from office due to misconduct, and compensation of council members. No recommendations for changes were put forward concerning term limits and removal from office; however, Olson did suggest that compensation for council members, currently $10 for each regular meeting, be eliminated.

The powers of the mayor outlined in Article V “The Mayor” were then considered. Section 5.08(a) states the mayor has sole power to appoint the city secretary, city attorney, municipal court judge, certified public accountant, and all members of all boards, commissions and committees. The charter committee members discussed at length their concern over what would happen in the event a mayor refuses to make appointments. A change in the wording of the statement to read “a mayor MUST make appointments” for these positions could resolve this concern.

In discussing Article VI “Elections” Woodward cited instances in Sections 6.02, 6.07 and 6.08 where the words “according to state law” could replace wording dealing with timing and scheduling issues for run-off elections, canvassing of votes, and seating of new council members.

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. The committee submits their recommendations, if any, to council.  If approved by council, the matter is put before the voters in either a regularly scheduled election or during a special election.

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, March 7.

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