VENICE — After reviewing the entire city charter — except for parts the city attorney said are controlled by state law — the Charter Review Committee came up with six pages of changes to recommend to the City Council.

Compare that to the 30-page report prepared by the committee that performed the task in 2013.

That report included the entire charter, whether changes were proposed to a section or not.

The job this time around was somewhat simpler because of the work of the prior committee, which caught the charter up to changes in state law, made it consistent with ordinances and eliminated some provisions in their entirety, including Subpart B — Related Laws.

But that group didn’t have to consider the impact of a 100-year pandemic on city government, either. Several of the proposed changes the Council will consider in deciding what to put to referendum next year address the mechanics of holding a meeting in the time of COVID-19.

Here’s a summary of the proposed substantive changes Committee Chair Jeff Boone will present to the Council at its Oct. 26 meeting:

Section 3.01 — in keeping with a change implemented months ago, there’s language stating that the Council makes all board appointments. Previously, the mayor did, with Council consent.

Section 3.02 — new language would require the mayor to preside over meetings in person when a physical quorum is required, generally at regular and special meetings but not workshops.

If the mayor can’t be present, then the vice mayor, if present, presides. If neither is present, then the Council members who are present elect a meeting chair.

There’s also a provision creating a process for getting a document signed if the mayor declines or is unable to. Authority to sign some documents can be delegated to the city manager.

Section 3.05 — Council salaries would be set at 20% of the salary of a County Commissioner — $91,821 today — with the mayor getting an extra $1,200. Currently, it takes a referendum to give the Council a raise.

Section 3.07 — failing to attend three consecutive Council meetings in person without being excused would be considered forfeiture of the office. In-person attendance isn’t currently required of a particular member but four members must be present to create a quorum.

Section 5.02 — new language would clarify that Council’s prior approval would be needed for the proposed General Fund budget to exceed the previous year’s proposed General Fund budget by more than 3%. The existing language was read to refer to the final approved budget.

Section 5.06 — eliminates a requirement that the annual budget hearings be advertised in a newspaper and instead provides they shall be noticed pursuant to state law.

Section 5.09 — eliminates a provision that the Council is to decide which city employees should be bonded, a duty it hasn’t performed.

Section 7.04 — eliminates language that the Council determines the form of the ballot for city elections.

Section 7.05 — covers the circumstance of only one candidate being qualified for a city election, and of no candidates qualifying, or there being none remaining when qualifying closes. In the former case, the lone candidate is deemed elected; in the latter, the Council member holding the seat remains in office until the next year’s election.

Section 9.03 — provides that people signing initiative or citizen referendum petitions must date their signatures.

Section 11.02 — states that the written oath signed by elected and appointed officers will be “kept on file with the city,” rather than filed with the city clerk, which hasn’t been the practice.

The Council is free to accept, reject or modify each recommendation, as well as to add its own proposed charter changes.

The Council-approved changes will go to referendum in November 2022.


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