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Working Session Includes Charter Revision

January 11, 2012, 6:10 PM by Kelly Bartnick

Working Session Includes Charter Revision
SIOUX FALLS, SD - It's the hot topic in Sioux Falls city government that doesn't appear to be going away.

Revisions approved by the Charter Revision Commission to the city's governing document could be headed to the ballot.

It's drawn criticism from residents and the Sioux Falls City council, which took up the issue again Wednesday. 

The city council talked more about some of the proposed changes -- the biggest would grant the mayor's office more power when it comes to contract negotiations, employee hiring, and disciplinary procedures. And now the city's elected officials are also questioning the pace of the commission's decision.

Interim City Clerk Sue Roust broke down the numbers as a request from the council. Roust said so far, the group has met just 3.5 hours since it was appointed by the Mayor. It has allowed 18 minutes of that time was allowed for public input, according to Roust.

"You don't just wham-bam a constitution. If you're gonna call it that, and have it be that kind of document," Council Vice-Chair Michelle Erpenbach said. "It's three hours of conversation changing the fundamental way the city does business."

The council says previous charter commissions have taken years to make those types of recommendations, thouch city attorney David Pfeifle said it has happened in the past. The Council believes it was left out of the loop on several of the group's actions.

"It went directly to the commission without regard to how that affects council decision making," City Councilor Vernon Brown said.

Roust told councilors the commission has recommended seven charter amendments. The most controversial being one that expands the mayor's executive power. Another would push investigation of violations by election officials to the Board of Ethics instead of the city attorney. Others change and update the Charter's wording.

"We don't have authority to second-guess decision where our abilities are to change the ordinance that requires approval as council chair has recommendation," City Councilor Greg Jamison said.

Jamison said that could mean a new ordinance that would change how committees are appointed--possibly through a combination of mayoral and council appointments. The council could also set up an ordinance to make certain citizen committees like the charter revision commission meet by a certain date.

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