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Charter Revision Controversy

January 26, 2012, 9:58 PM by Kelly Bartnick

Charter Revision Controversy
SIOUX FALLS, SD - It's a committee that's drawn controversy, and Friday the Sioux Falls Charter Revision Commission will take public input one final time.

The commission began meeting in Mid-December and made some controversial suggestions that would amend the city's governing document. KEOLOLAND News caught up with the man who appointed the last commission and tells us what he thinks about the group's work so far.

Earlier this month, the Charter Revision Commission drew fire from citizens and city councilors when it made a recommendation to amend how much power the mayor's office had in some every day decisions. The revision would allow the mayor more control over contract negotiations, employee discipline, among other things.

The group has also drawn fire for reaching its conclusions so quickly after it's selection. The man who appointed the last revision commission says there is merit in that argument.

“It has moved a little fast, and that people were taken by surprise on what the recommendations were,” former Sioux Falls Mayor Dave Munson said.

Munson appointed the previous charter commission that served from 2007 to 2010. The former mayor says finding a good mix of citizens to sit on any panel such as the Charter Revision Commission can be difficult. And at the end of the day, allowing plenty of time for citizen input is a must in government. It seems that is something this new commission forgot.

“Business you can go in and make a decision and say, this is it. This is how we're gonna do things. But when you're in government, you've got to look at so many different avenues you have to travel down,” Munson said.

And the protocol of just how to move is laid out in the city's charter. During Munson's time in office, the charter revision commission did make some changes to the document. He says it took them more than a year to get the revisions on the ballot. This new committee plans to do it in five months.

“You gotta make sure you have plenty of lead time so you can bring participants in and let people make their voices heard,” Munson said.

Part of the recommendation to allow the mayor more control over city contract agreements contradicts work by the city council to have more say in those types of negotiations. Muson says making the changes could create a disconnect between the council and city hall, who are both elected and expected to watch out for taxpayer interests.

“At the end of the day, that's all you're really trying to do, is to make sure everything you do will help the operation of government be efficient for all the citizens of Sioux Falls. That's what this is all about,” Munson said.

The commission only makes recommendations, and the public will have the final say. Any changes have to be put to a vote in a city-wide election.

That final meeting is scheduled for 3 p.m. Friday at Carnegie Town Hall in downtown Sioux Falls. For an agenda overview, click on the link below.
Charter Revision Commission Meeting Agenda.pdf

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