Charter Commission Submits Final Amendment Proposals

Dallas City Hall | Image by ssucsy/Getty Images

Members of the Dallas Charter Review Commission approved a list of recommended amendments to the City charter during their final meeting on Thursday.

The recommendations will be sent to the Dallas City Council.

“I could see why some of you succeeded in public office,” Charter Review Commission (CRC) Chair Allen Vaught said. “And others, why haven’t you been in public office? I mean that. This has been a very positive experience for me. I know we’re all trying to juggle a lot of things. It’s just been a really great group to work with.”

Among the 35 amendments to receive final approval was a measure allowing non-U.S. citizens to represent the Dallas City Council on committees, boards, and commissions. Language in the charter would be revised to “be more inclusive, using ‘resident’ or ‘people’ in place of ‘citizen'” as a qualifier to determine which Dallas residents can be appointed to advisory boards, The Dallas Express has reported.

The word “citizen” is used interchangeably in municipal and other local forms of government. In general, it colloquially describes someone who is a resident of a place, such as Dallas or Dallas County. In reality, “citizen” is a legal term reserved to describe those who are legal residents of the United States.

If the Dallas City Council adopts the recommendation as submitted by CRC and voters approve it in November, Dallas residents who are in the country lawfully and are otherwise eligible to serve on City boards, committees, and commissions may be appointed to them.

“The problem I’m trying to solve is a political problem,” Commissioner David de la Fuente (District 1) said during an April 2 meeting. “It’s not a policy problem. It’s not a legal problem. An authorized resident in the United States would be a non-citizen who has legal and lawful protections in entry into this country. So, think of a green card holder, think of someone with a work visa, think of someone with DACA protections.”

Other amendments approved by the CRC on Thursday include:

  • Require the city manager to submit an estimated budget by August 15 instead of on August 15.
  • Amend city council candidate residency requirements to match the requirements in the Election Code.
  • Delete the requirement that the city secretary verify the truth in a city council candidate’s filed affidavit of residency.
  • Add a provision to allow for an alternate deadline when the date for the performance of an act falls on a weekend or holiday.
  • Requiring candidates for city council to not be in arrears in the payment of liabilities due to the city related to holding office.
  • Allow the city to accrue liens on a monthly basis.
  • Amend personnel appeal deadline to be consistent with personnel rules.
  • Clarify that a civilian probationary period does not satisfy the requirement for sworn service probationary periods.
  • Remove voter registration requirement for those who make an application to the city secretary and file an intention to circulate a petition.
  • Require city boards and commissions to elect their own vice chairs.
  • Delete the requirement for bids to be opened in a public place and in the presence of persons and remain open to the public.
  • Clarify that the city council, not the rules of the civil service board, designates which managerial personnel are included within the unclassified service.
  • Reorganizations and reductions in force will be treated in the same manner with respect to compensation and reassignment.
  • It is the duty of the Human Resources Department, rather than the Civil Service Board rules and regulations, to establish rules governing the evaluation of conduct and performance and require remedies for non-performance for positions in the civil service.
  • Require that special meetings be called upon the written request of five members of the city council rather than three.
  • Extend the deadline petitioners must meet to collect the required signatures on a petition from 60 days to 120 days.
  • Reduce the number of signatures required on a petition in support of holding a referendum.
  • Provide the city secretary and city auditor assistants and employees.
  • Establish the Office of Inspector General in the city charter, with the inspector general being appointed by the city council.
  • Broaden the city’s notification process to include other media options in addition to newspaper publication.
  • Establish a Community Bond Commission.
  • Add a provision triggering the implementation of ranked-choice voting in municipal elections once the state law is amended to allow for ranked-choice voting.
  • Increase the annual salary for council members to $125,000 and the mayor to $140,000, indexed to the consumer price index.
  • Clarify that, in addition to annual salaries, the mayor and council members may also receive benefits for elected officials as permitted by law.
  • Require that the Office of Community Police Oversight director be appointed by and report directly to the city council.
  • Allow the city council’s appointments to boards and commissions to be replaced by the city council prior to the completion of the member’s term.
  • Delete the provision prohibiting the city council from interfering with appointments and subordinates of the city manager.
  • Add eligibility criteria for serving on the redistricting commission.

The meeting on Thursday lasted less than an hour. Several commissioners thanked each other for their eight-month commitment to the CRC.

“I think you’ve been fair,” P. Michael Jung (District 9) told Vaught and Vice Chair Adam Medrano (District 6). “I think you’ve been efficient. I think you’ve been even-handed. It’s been a pleasure serving under you.”

CRC votes every 10 years to include or exclude proposed amendments to the City charter for consideration by the Dallas City Council, which then must decide whether to place any or all of them — as submitted or modified — on the ballot for voters to approve or disapprove. Election day is November 5.

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