A draft of the proposed new Marquette city charter was approved by a unanimous vote of the nine-person charter commission and has been reviewed and approved by Michigan's governor and attorney general. A ballot proposal regarding the proposed new city charter appears as the last item on the Nov. 6 ballot in Marquette.
I along with all of the other members of the Charter Commission urge Marquette voters to vote yes on this proposal. Elected members of the charter commission are Robert Kulisheck - chairman and Thomas L. Baldini, vice chairman. Members include Robert Berube, Sara Cambensy, Martha E. Conley, J. Michael Coyne, M. Cameron Howes, Cornelia Mazzuchi and Thomas Tourville.
The information presented below describes the process through which the proposed new charter was written and explains how the new city charter will benefit the community. Documents relating to the work of the charter commission are available for review on the city's website at www.mqtcty.org, and hard copies of the proposed charter can be reviewed in the city clerk's office at city hall and at Peter White Public Library.
The process: The charter commission conducted a series of four public hearings and held joint work sessions with the city commission and city staff, representatives of the Board of Light and Power, and Peter White Public Library. Members of the city's appointed boards, commissions and committees also presented suggestions.
Topics to be covered during all regular meetings of the charter commission were reported by the local media and residents of Marquette were encouraged to submit written statements and/or to attend these meetings and present their comments.
Need for a new charter: First, numerous provisions in the current city charter are no longer relevant because they have been nullified by changes in state and federal laws, regulations and court decisions. Second, the city's fiscal year as designated in the current city charter is no longer the same as the state and federal fiscal years. Third, the dollar values stated in the current city charter regarding bidding requirements etc. are based on 1951 dollars. Fourth, antiquated and confusing provisions in the current city charter make it difficult for city staff to operate the city in an efficient and cost effective fashion. Fifth, because of these antiquated and confusing provisions, the meaning of the current city charter is not clear.
Following a thorough review, it was determined that the current city charter should be completely revised. There were found to be so many major changes needed in the current city charter that it would be impractical to revise the charter through a series of 20 or more separate amendments.
Retention of the current form of government: It was found that the people of Marquette were not in favor of changing the basic structure of municipal government. Consequently, the current commission-manager form of government is retained, while changes have been made that will enable the city to operate in a more cost-efficient, effective and transparent fashion. It should also be noted that the proposed new city charter will not increase the millage rate nor will it alter the type of taxes collected by the city.
Summary of major changes that appear in the proposed new Marquette city charter:
- Establishment of fiscal year dates consistent with those of the state and federal governments;
- Establishment of up-to-date ethical standards covering volunteer members of boards and committees as well as elected officials and employees;
- Establishment and maintenance of an up-to-date communication plan using the most current print, electronic and other appropriate media;
- Establishment of procedures related to the long term leasing of city property;
- Requirements for periodic review of the city charter;
- Requirements for regular strategic planning;
- Requirements for continuing economic development planning;
- Requirements for the annual evaluation of the city manager and city attorney;
- Promotion of intergovernmental relations and cooperation;
- Clarification of the relationship between the city and the Board of Light and Power;
- Elimination of scores of redundant, antiquated and confusing provisions in the current charter.
Your vote is important: If the past is a guide, this new city charter could serve our community well into the 21st century. Consequently, Marquette voters are encouraged to approve the proposed new city charter.
Please note that the charter proposal appears as the last item on the ballots in the City of Marquette.
Editor's note: Robert Kulisheck is chairman of the Marquette Charter Commission.