Del Rio voters will decide on 10 proposed amendments to the city charter during the Nov. 3 General Election.
Voters can look at the proposed amendments and the exact changes being proposed to the city charter on the city’s web site, www.cityofdelrio.com, City Manager Matt Wojnowski said Wednesday.
“Our public media team has put together a great document that’s on our web site and shows what the wording on the ballot will be, and then right below that, it shows the exact sections of the city charter and what’s being redlined, crossed out and added in,” Wojnowski said.
Voters can access the document directly by typing the following into their search engines: www.cityofdelrio.com/home/showdocument?id=5108
“It says there in black and white exactly what will be on the ballot, and below that, it shows the sections of the charter that will be changed,” Wojnowski said.
He noted the propositions will be listed on the ballot in an alphabet format, Propositions A through J.
Wojnowski said Proposition A amends the city charter to “revise and delete sections which are inconsistent or outdated under state law to be consistent with state law.”
“It’s good, a best practice, to make sure our charter matches state law,” the city manager said.
The document explaining the changes then includes about six pages specifying exactly which sections of the charter will be changed to reflect current state law.
“There are 17 sections of the charter that this proposition will apply to, and again, everyone can get on our web site and look and see the specific sections where language will be removed or added,” Wojnowski said.
Proposition B, Wojnowski explained, deals with the clarification of terms of office for Del Rio City Council seats.
Voters will be asked to decide if they are for or against “an amendment ... to clarify the application of term limits in regard to councilperson seats, the mayor and incomplete terms.”
“Basically (the new language) says the office of a council member, whether it’s at-large or by district, is considered an office of a council member, and (council members) can serve no more than two consecutive terms as a council member, whether that’s by district or at-large,” Wojnowski said.
“It’s the same thing with the mayor. The mayor shall not serve more than two consecutive terms. It also clarifies that the office of mayor and the office of council member are two separate offices, so you could be a council member for two consecutive terms and then run for mayor,” the city manager added.
Proposition B, if approved by the voters, will also add language to the city charter to specify that “any term less than a full four-year term shall not be counted as a consecutive term for the purposes of term limits.”
Proposition C deals with changes to the municipal court portion of the city charter.
“The proposition adds authority for a municipal court supervisor to be the clerk of the court, provides for the appointment of a judge pro tempore and adds the requirement that the municipal court judge be a licensed attorney,” Wojnowski said.
Proposition D amends the city charter to require the city council “to review the proper amount for bonds for certain officials every two years.”
“That would be done by ordinance. Currently the charter specifies the city manager, the director of finance and the city tax assessor collector are required to be bonded,” Wojnowski said.
Proposition E amends the city charter sections dealing with the city manager’s authority and duties, Wojnowski said.
“There are four sections that talk about that. Basically (the amendment) will allow the city manager to transfer funds from one line item to another department within the same fund. Currently there is a $10,000 limit in that area, and that could be done by council anyways. This just grants that authority to the city manager,” Wojnowski said.
“It also clarifies that the director of planning isn’t a department head position and can be appointed by the city manager directly without approval from the city council because in the current organizational chart, they are not a department head,” the city manager added.
Proposition F deals with capital improvement project (CIP) funds, “allowing those funds to be rolled over at the end of the year,” Wojnowski said.
“I don’t know that there’s ever been a problem with that, but capital improvement projects sometimes go across budget years,” the city manager said.
Proposition G would amend the city charter “removing from the scope of referendum those ordinances related to indebtedness.”
“Basically, if a utility rate or bridge rate is set, and it’s set at a certain rate because there’s debt tied to it, the voters would not be able to change that rate that’s tied to debt, and it applies to when there’s an ordinance authorizing indebtedness for a utility or bridge rate,” Wojnowski said.
Proposition H deals with language in the city charter regarding the international bridge.
This proposition, if approved, would strike all of the language currently in Section 126 of the charter, “Bridge Across the Rio Grande River.”
In its place, it would add the following: “For any public purpose, the City may acquire, construct, improve, enlarge, equip, operate or maintain one or more toll bridges over a section of the Rio Grande that forms the border between the state and the United Mexican States. In additional to any powers relating to this section that are provided by state law, the City may also grant or donate to the United States any property or building, road, structure, or other facility necessary for the operation of a bridge whether such improvement will be located on City owned land or land owned by the United States.”
Wojnowski said the change to the charter is being sought so that portion dealing with the international bridge “will coincide with state law regarding international bridges.”
Proposition I would amend the city charter to reflect gender neutral descriptions.
“For example, references in the charter that read ‘councilman’ will now read ‘councilperson,’” Wojnowski said.
The last proposition, Proposition J, amends the city charter “to require electronic fund transfers be processed consistent as all other disbursements of the city.”
“This was an amendment that was recommended by the finance director at the time,” the city manager said.
Wojnowski urged all Del Rio voters to visit the city’s web site and familiarize themselves with the propositions and the changes they are contemplating.
“I’d ask everyone to visit our web site and review the propositions. They can look at the language as it will be on the ballot and the sections of the city charter underneath, showing the portions that will be redlined and what will be added to each particular section,” Wojnowski said.
“We also encourage citizens to reach out to us if they have questions, and we’d be happy to help clarify and get those questions answered for them,” the city manager added.