Charter amendments postponed


Special to the PRESS

January 15, 2015

A request to place amendments to the Laguna Vista charter on the May election ballot has failed due to time constraints.
Councilman Richard Hinojosa at the Jan.13 Town Council meeting had proposed that voters be allowed to determine if the Ethic’s Board should be terminated, and/or if restrictions requiring a municipal court judge to be an attorney , should be removed from the charter. Another potential amendment proposal, Hinojosa said, was the determination of the number of absences legally allowable by appointed/elected officials at special and regular meetings. He added that his fellow Council members could potentially have their own suggested amendments listed on the proposed ballot, if they so choose.
However, in reviewing the election calendar, City Secretary Alma Deckard determined that insufficient time existed to prepare the proposed amendments for the Council’s approval and subsequent publication for the required election order in February.
“We should have discussed this earlier?” Mayor Susie Houston asked. Legal counsel and the city secretary said the discussion should have been completed at an earlier date in order to meet state and federal election guidelines.
The possibility of calling a special election, separate and apart from the May election was discussed, with City Attorney Ricardo Morado saying it would be possible, should the Council wish to do so. Comments regarding the cost of special elections were raised at that point. Ultimately, no action was taken on the agenda item.
In other matters, the Council approved on its second reading, new subdivision regulations, replacing a long-standing ordinance that dates back to 1962. The new document introduces a subdivision process, updates the construction standards for new subdivisions, bring subdivision standards into compliance with the Comprehensive Plan and sets out extra territorial jurisdiction development standards.
The Board also considered on its first reading an ordinance revising a portion of the Ethics’ Board policy that spells-out deadlines to deal with ethics complaints. The proposed ordinance would, if adopted, inform future appointees to the board of the duties and responsibilities to be readily available for certain meetings.
The proposed ordinance would require members of the Ethics Board to be readily available to consider a complaint. “Prior to taking the oath of office each member of the Board of Ethics must execute a written agreement confirming his acceptance of the obligations…to attend a meeting…within 14 days of receiving notice of such meeting. Failure to execute the required written agreement…shall constitute an immediate and automatic resignation from the Board of Ethics,” the document reads.
The proposed ordinance also prohibits Ethics Board members from being married to a town official, being a town employee,  elected official, candidate for elected office, someone who represents the private interests of others before the Council, a paid campaign worker or a close relative of a Town official.
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