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City Charter discussion on council agenda

WILLMAR -- The Willmar City Council at the regular meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday will resume consideration of an ordinance amending the City Charter.

The council tabled the ordinance Dec. 19. Discussion will resume when the council votes to remove the ordinance from the table. The council delayed action at the last meeting because one of the eight council members was absent. The charter requires an affirmative vote of all eight council members to amend the charter by council action. Charter amendments can also be approved by a vote of the people.

The charter, which is the city's governing document, was last reviewed in 1993. In October 2008, the council appointed the Charter Commission. The commission held its first meeting in March 2009 and eventually recommended a list of changes.

One change directs the council to adopt the Minnesota Mayors' Association Rules of Order for City Councils. Previously, the charter directed the council to adopt its own rules and order of business.

Probably the most controversial change, according to Commission Chairman Shawn Mueske, would require a super majority of 6 rather than 5 council members to override actions of the Rice Memorial Hospital Board, Municipal Utilities Commission and Planning Commission.

Mueske said the purpose of the amendment was to strike consistency for the council's veto authority across the board, including for the mayor.

In other business Tuesday, the council will hold a hearing to consider refinancing $47 million in general obligation bonds for Rice Hospital.

Also, the council will hold a hearing to rezone several blocks south of the central business district from R-4 (medium-density, multi-family residential) to R-3 (low-density, multi-family residential). The rezoning was initiated by the Planning Commission.

Officials said the zoning change will allow single-family homes, duplexes, tri-plexes and four-plexes as legally permitted uses to make financing and resale more feasible for the existing single-family homes.

Finally, the council will consider a resolution appointing one person as the responsible authority to administer the requirements for collection, storage, use and dissemination of data. The appointment is required by state law.

City Administrator Charlene Stevens said the practice of the council has been to appoint the city administrator as the responsible authority.

David Little
David Little covers the Willmar City Council, Willmar Municipal Utilities and other city news.
(320) 235-1150