Charter amendments added to November ballot

Tuesday, August 26th 2008, 2:58 pm
By: News 9

OKLAHOMA CITY - Voters will decide on five amendments to the Oklahoma City charter in November.

Council members voted Tuesday to include the proposed amendments on the Nov. 4 ballot.

Former councilwoman and current Oklahoma County Commissioner Willa Johnson led the citizen task force that recommended the changes.  State law requires that residents vote on changes to the city charter.  If approved, the governor also must sign them before they take effect.

The amendments will be presented separately on the ballot. They are:

Vacancies on the City Council - In the event a vacancy occurs on the Council, this amendment provides a temporary appointment so the ward won't be without representation for more than 30 days.  It also calls for an election as soon as possible after the seat is vacated. 

Qualifications to become Mayor or a City Councilmember - This change reduces the eligible age of the Mayor and Council from 25 to 21 years old. It also clarifies that councilmembers must be a resident of the ward they hope to represent for six months.

Vice-Mayor Selection - Determines that each Councilmember will serve as Vice-Mayor for six months, according to seniority. When several councilmembers are sworn in on the same day they will serve as Vice-Mayor in alphabetical order, according to their last name.  The Vice-Mayor assumes the duties of the Mayor during his or her absence.

Mayor and Councilmember's Salary - This amendment raises the Mayor's salary from $24,000 to $48,000 annually and Councilmember's salary from $12,000 to $24,000 annuallyThe Mayor and councilmembers who are currently serving would not receive the higher salaries unless they are reelected for new terms of office.  New councilmembers elected after the amendment is approved by voters and signed by the Governor would receive the increase.

Interest of City Officers or Employees in City Contracts - Replaces the current verbiage by adopting State law.  This continues to prohibit City officers, including the Mayor, Council and Council appointees, and City employees from contracting with The City of Oklahoma City.  It also prohibits City officers and employees from selling, buying or leasing property from the City.