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El Paso City Council to consider changes to city charter

By Maria Garcia, MariaG@kvia.com.
Published On: Jan 30 2013 04:03:12 PM CST
Updated On: Jan 14 2014 09:49:38 PM CST

EL PASO, Texas -

El Paso City Council will consider changes to the city charter that will impact the way the city is governed.
     
A city's charter is the municipal constitution, a guiding light to set policy. Currently, most city charters are general, but El Paso's is incredibly specific, said Leila Melendez, the Executive Assistant to the City Manager.

"It doesn't just say that we have a policy or rule, it describes what that policy or rule is so and so it makes it a little more challenging when we're trying to streamline processes, change procedures to be more efficient because we have to stay so rigid with the charter."

Melendez said the city staff and council have been looking at ways to "streamline processes."

City Council and city staff recommended changes to be considered by an Ad Hoc Charter Review Committe. The committee is made up of residents appointed by each council member and the Mayor. There are about 40 recommended changes, said Melendez.

Among the most consequential are changes to the way residents can call a recall election and a non-discrimination clause, that would prevent the city of denying benefits to employees based on sexual orientation, race, religion, national origin and other categories.  "the non-discrimination clause just says that the city will not discriminate on any basis when it comes to employment and the benefits that employees receive," said Melendez.

Currently, petitioners need signatures from 20% of the votes cast in the last election.
Under the proposed change - they'd need  a percentage of total registered voters in the specific district of the elected official they're trying to recall, not just those who cast ballots in the last election.

Another proposed change would allow city officials to post ordinances only online and at city hall, instead of posting a paper copy in certain parts of the city.

The committee's last meeting was on Monday afternoon. They'll present their recommendations to council on February 11th at council chambers, where council will also listen to public comment on the issue. That meeting is at 11 a.m.

Information: Learn about El Paso's City Charter and possible changes at http://home.elpasotexas.gov/charter

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