Changes Sought In City Charter Including Four Year Terms for Mayor and Aldermen

January 15, 2013
by: 
Dwayne Page
Tim Stribling, Jason Judd Murphy, and Jimmy Poss
Danny Washer, Gayla Hendrix, and Shawn Jacobs
Mayor and Aldermen (Older Photo)

The Smithville Mayor and Aldermen are considering making changes to the city charter including having the terms of office go from two to four years and holding regular meetings only once per month.

Mayor Jimmy Poss and Aldermen Jason Murphy, Tim Stribling, Shawn Jacobs, Gayla Hendrix, Danny Washer, and Secretary-Treasurer Hunter Hendrixson met in a workshop at city hall Saturday morning to review the charter and to suggest changes. No action could be taken since it was neither a regular or special meeting.

Under consideration is a measure to change the charter so that city elections could be held every two years, on the first Thursday in August to coincide with the county general election and state primaries. Terms of office for the mayor and aldermen would go from two to four years. Aldermen say the city could save money by not having to hold an election every year. By having the city election to run with the county general elections in August, it would most likely draw more city voters to the polls, according to the aldermen. City elections are currently held on the third Tuesday in June and the mayor and aldermen races are the only offices on the ballot.

The terms of office for the mayor and aldermen are staggered. For example, three aldermen are to be elected this year (2013) and a mayor and two aldermen are to be elected next year (2014). Currently the terms of office are for two years. The office holders are elected on the third Tuesday in June and their terms of office begin on July 1.

Under consideration is a measure to extend the terms of the three aldermen up for election this year by two months until after an election in August. The three aldermen elected this year would then serve for a three year term until after an election in August 2016. From then on three aldermen would be elected to serve four year terms. The terms would most likely begin on September 1.

Next year under the proposal, the terms of the mayor and two aldermen up for election in 2014 would be extended by two months until after an election in August. Those elected would serve for four years.

The aldermen are also considering changing regular city council meetings from twice to once per month and to have special meetings as needed. Under the proposal, the mayor and aldermen would meet on the first Monday night of the month, as they do now, but the time would change to 6:00 p.m. instead of 7:00 p.m. If the meeting date should fall on a holiday, the mayor and aldermen would meet on the following Monday night. The second regular meeting night of each month, now on the third Monday night, would no longer be held. Special meetings could be called by either the mayor or any two aldermen, giving at least 48 hours notice.

The aldermen also propose to make the charter more concise and less confusing and to drop language outdated or obsolete.

City officials are to review the proposed changes with the Municipal Technical Advisory Service (MTAS) before taking action. A proposed resolution with the changes will then be presented to the aldermen for approval. In order for the charter to be changed it must be approved a second time by a vote of not less than two-thirds of the entire membership of the board after the resolution is approved by the General Assembly.

City officials plan to check this week with State Senator Mae Beavers and State Representatives Terri Lynn Weaver and Mark Pody to make sure its not too late to get the resolution submitted to the legislature for approval this year.

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