Potential charter changes will likely be included in May ballot for voters in Estacada

FILE PHOTO - Estacada Mayor Sean Drinkwine had asked the City Council to consider adding an expansion of the mayoral term to proposed city charter changes. The City Council declined to add this to changes to the charger.

Earlier this week, the Estacada City Council declined to add an expansion of the mayor's term to proposed changes to the city's charter.

During consideration of the changes presented by the city's Charter Review Committee on Monday, Dec. 11, Mayor Sean Drinkwine proposed that an expansion of the mayor's term — to a total of four years — be added. While the term lengths of Estacada city councilors are four years, the mayor is in office for just two years, unless reelected.

"It takes two years to really get on the map. By the time I'm pulling people in, I'm on my way out," Drinkwine said during the Dec. 11 meeting. "I ask that we look at that."

However, during a meeting on Monday, Jan. 8, councilors opted not to add an expansion of the mayor's term to the potential charter changes.

Councilor Lanelle King noted that two former Estacada mayors were part of the Charter Review Committee, and the group did not express concern with the mayor's term length.

Councilor Justin Gates noted that, although he's pleased with Drinkwine's work as mayor, he was weary to expand the length of the office.

"What happens if we get a mayor that isn't doing a (good) job?" he asked during Monday's meeting.

Of the Oregon cities that responded to Estacada City Manager Denise Carey's query on the matter, 21 have mayoral terms of four years, and 44 have terms that last two years.

Other proposed changes to the city's charter will likely be presented to voters on a ballot this May. An ordinance to be included on the ballot will potentially be presented to city councilors for consideration at their next meeting.

These changes are as follows:

Chapter I, Section 3 relating to annexations. Last March, a state law was passed that mandates cities whose laws require petitions proposing annexation of territory to be submitted to electors to annex territory without a vote upon receipt of petition for annexation; if the petition is submitted by all owners of the land, the territory is or will be included in the city's urban growth boundary, at least one parcel in territory is contiguous to city limits and proposal conforms to all other requirements of city's ordinances. The Charter Review Committee suggests taking the requirement of every annexation going to a vote out of the city's Charter.

Chapter II, Section 4 relating to elector approval for all new proposed taxes, fees and charges and fee and charge increases greater than three percent. The Charter Review Committee is recommending that this stipulation be removed and that the city should be able to raise fees accordingly. There are many instances in which the allotted three percent increase does not cover the cost of the service. For example, recently an applicant paid $546 for a land partition, but the cost to the city for the planner's time alone was more than $1,300. Additionally, there have been instances where the city has needed to implement a new fee but was unable to because of the Charter restriction.

Chapter VII, Section 32 regarding mayor and councilor vacancies and Chapter VIII Section 33 regarding city manager relatives holding office or employment in the city has clarification changes. Because there are many words that the Charter Review Committee thought were ambiguous, the group proposes changing the word "position" to "office" and taking out the word "disability" and "disabled" in Section 32. They also propose changes to Section 33 to clarify that although no relatives of the city manager may be employed by the city, they can hold appointed office.

¦ Chapter XII regarding voter approval of urban renewal. The Charter Review Committee suggests deleting this chapter and permitting the city to comply with state law regarding urban renewal matters.

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