Home rule charter to be on Nov. 2 ballot
By Brandi Addison
The Community News
The Aledo City Council voted unanimously to call for a special election and place a home rule charter proposition on the Nov. 2 ballot at its regular meeting on July 22.
Under Home Rule, the city would have more flexibility to adopt its own rules in addition to state legislation, allowing citizens more control over local government.
The council appointed 14 individuals who met with consultant Don Edmonds six times since the spring to develop the home rule charter approved by the council.
“I think we accomplished the preparation of a guide of the city’s governance to guide the population changes, state requirements, and economic and regional changes that are right around the corner — in fact, they’re already here in most cases,” commission chair Bill McLeroy said.
In general, home rule charters give citizens more control over their local governing body by allowing the charter to determine the governmental structure of their city. This includes the form of government — such as council-manager, mayor-manager, and mayor-council — the size of a council, and the fixed terms of office.
For Aledo, the proposal recommends a council-manager government, though it could be changed with a citywide vote to amend the charter. The elective council will be comprised of the mayor and five council members who will enact local legislation; adopt budgets; determine policies; and appoint the city attorney, judge of the municipal court, and the city manager.
If the charter is approved by voters, the current two-year terms will be staggered to three-year terms under a schedule approved by the commission.
While it was not part of the proposal, home rule charters could also impose requirements for council members and mayoral candidates — such as age, residency, and terms of office — through an election of an amended charter.
The Home Rule Charter as proposed will provide for recall, initiative, and referendum rights for citizens.
The proposed charter would allow the “people of the City (to) reserve the power to recall the mayor or any other member of the council” through a petition and a recall election. It also allows citizens, through a petition, to initiate legislation and to overturn ordinances passed by the city council through petition and election.
These powers are generally not permitted in General Law cities.
Home Rule cities can also extend city boundaries through annexation, unilaterally, while general law cities can generally only annex with permission of property owners or with the majority vote of residents in an annexed area.
“I think what we accomplished was to provide a strong charter to guide the ethical operation of this city for and with the citizens of Aledo,” McLeroy said.