- City Charter Amendments Nos. 1-10
- City Charter Amendments Nos. 11-20
- City Charter Amendments Nos. 21-30
- City Charter Amendments Nos. 31-40
- City Charter Amendments Nos. 41-50
- City Charter Amendments Nos. 51-60
- City Charter Amendments Nos. 61-70
- City Charter Amendments Nos. 71-83
There are 83 propositions for amending the Richardson City Charter on the November ballot. I'm here with a voter's guide to tell you how to vote. You're welcome.
- Proposition No. 11: Shall Section 11.03 of the Charter be amended to clarify that the budget and all supporting schedules filed by the city manager with the city secretary and submitted to the city council as required by this section is only the "proposed" budget.
YES. Clarification. Surely Section 11.03 was intended to apply to the "proposed" budget. Explicitly stating this is a clarification, not a substantive change.
- Proposition No. 12: Shall Section 11.06 of the Charter relating to budget appropriation of funds be amended by changing the phrase "reserved fund balance" to "unallocated fund balance" to correctly describe the function of such fund consistent with municipal budget and financial practices.
YES. Clarification. Or is it? This amendment changes "reserved" fund balance to "unallocated" fund balance. Assuming that a "reserve" implies "unallocated" then this amendment is a cleanup of potentially confusing terminology. (Compare with Proposition 41, which amends Section 11.08, changing "unreserved" to "unallocated." How can "reserved" and "unreserved" both mean "unallocated"? Flammable/inflammable? Confusing, right?)
- Proposition No. 13: Shall Section 11.07 of the Charter be amended to clarify that the prohibition of the transfer of funds of any nontax supported city public utility does not apply to the transfer of budgeted funds of any nontax supported city public utility or other enterprise fund for purposes of reimbursing the general fund for providing administrative services to such operations.
YES. Clarification. The city charges water customers the cost of providing administrative services for water operations (payroll, billing, office space and equipment, etc.) and for franchise fees (fees utilities pay the city for use of public right of way). It does this by transferring money from the water fund to the general fund. This practice has been a matter of contention, with some saying such transfers violate the charter. Others point out that the charter bans transfers of "unencumbered balances." They contend that the funds to pay administrative fees are encumbered and thus not included in the ban. The contention is a bookkeeping question. Neither passage nor rejection of this amendment will have an affect on the cost of supplying water to the city. This amendment clarifies that the charter does not prohibit using fund transfers as the bookkeeping mechanism for handling such charges in the case of a city-owned utility like the water department.
- Proposition No. 14: Shall Section 11.11 of the Charter be amended to clarify that the annual independent audit of the city funds and accounts conducted each fiscal year by a certified public accountant or firm is to be in accordance with applicable auditing standards.
- Proposition No. 15: Shall Section 13.02 of the Charter relating to the requirement that specific listed acts of the city council be accomplished through the adoption of an ordinance be amended to read "Acts of the city council shall be by adoption of an ordinance when state law or other provisions of this charter require such acts to be approved by ordinance".
NO. Maybe cleanup, maybe substantive. The current charter lists six actions by the city council that must be done by ordinance. I have no idea how many of these items are required by state law. All? Some? None? The proposition doesn't say. It doesn't cite relevant state law. The charter review commission didn't leave any artifacts to say either. I consider it burdensome to expect the voters to be so familiar with state law that they can answer this question themselves. Without better supporting documentation from the charter review commission, I recommend a "NO" vote on this amendment. If the amendment is truly only a cosmetic change, then a "NO" vote will have no negative impact. But if the amendment is actually more than a cosmetic change (even if only unintentionally) then a "NO" vote could save the residents of Richardson from making an unfortunate mistake.
- Proposition No. 16: Shall Section 19.04 of the Charter be repealed and Sections 19.01 and 19.02 of the Charter relating to the issuance of bonds be amended to simplify and clarify the authority of the city to issue and sell bonds in accordance with state law.
NOYES. Substantive change. Despite the wording in the proposition that this amendment is to "simplify and clarify" the existing language, the amendment appears to do much more. A meat cleaver has been taken to the charter. More than a whole page has been eliminated, including this: "the total indebtedness of the city, payable from the ad valorem taxes, shall never exceed the sum equal to fifteen (15) percent of the assessed value of taxable property according to the tax roll of the city." In addition, the current charter authorizes the city to issue bonds "for permanent public improvements or for any other legitimate municipal purpose." Curiously, the amendment adds "the funding of economic development programs" to the allowed purposes for issuing bonds. Why the charter review commission considers that use, of all possible uses of city bonds, requires explicit mention in the charter is, as I said, curious. Until this amendment receives more discussion and justification, I recommend a "NO" vote. [Update: After receiving more information, I change my recommendation to "YES".]
- Proposition No. 17: Shall Section 21.02 of the Charter relating to the execution of contracts be amended to simplify and clarify that the mayor, city manager, or designee of the city manager, may execute contracts without being attested to by the city secretary consistent with the City Administrative Code and eliminate city council approval of plans and specifications for public improvements consistent with state law.
NO. Substantive change. Despite the wording in the proposition that this amendment is to "simplify and clarify" the existing language, it loosens the restrictions on the execution of contracts. Currently, contracts must be signed by the city manager. The amendment allows the mayor to sign contracts as well. Why? Who knows? The proposition doesn't say. The charter review commission didn't leave any artifacts to say either. Maybe more important, the amendment eliminates the prohibition on contracts "in excess of the amount appropriated" by the city council. Why? Again, who knows? Until this amendment receives more discussion and justification, I recommend a "NO" vote.
- Proposition No. 18: Shall Section 21.03 of the Charter relating to the procedures for purchasing and for contracting for public improvements be amended in its entirety to read "The city shall comply with state law regarding purchasing and contracting of municipalities including provisions relating to notice of contracts, advertisements for notice, requirements for taking sealed bids or proposals on specifications for public improvements or purchases, the manner of opening bids and the award of contracts."
NO. Maybe substantive, maybe not. The current charter has a whole paragraph on procedures for purchasing. The amendment replaces all that with, in effect, "obey state law." First, there's no need for a city charter to say "obey state law" is there, really? Isn't that necessary regardless? Second, who is to say whether state law encompasses all the explicit rules the current city charter contains and that the amendment sweeps away. Until this amendment receives more discussion and justification, I recommend a "NO" vote.
- Proposition No. 19: Shall Article XXII, be amended to add Section 22.05 of the Charter to require the city council appoint a commission to review the charter at least every ten (10) years.
YES. Hell yes. If it weren't for a remiss city council putting off this necessary bit of housecleaning for a quarter century, the voters would not be having to slog through 83 charter amendment proposals this year.
- Proposition No. 20: Shall Section 1.02 of the Charter be amended to provide for maintaining the official map of the city's boundaries in accordance with state law.
Recommendations for the rest of the amendments will be coming in due time.