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3:08 AM Wed, Jan. 16th

Ballots contain city charter changes, home rule option

In addition to seeing candidates on Prescott's all-mail ballot primary election, voters also will have several ballot issues to choose from.

The ballots go out in the mail today, said City Clerk Marie Watson.

Along with the choices for mayor and three council members, voters also will decide two charter changes and an extension of the city's home rule option.

Complete descriptions of the ballot issues appear in the publicity pamphlet that went out in the mail to registered city voters this past week.

Watson emphasized that the pamphlets are for information only; voters will be receiving the actual ballots this week.

The ballot issues include:

• Proposition 300 – the extension of the Home Rule option, which has been in effect in the city since 1989.

The option (also called the alternative local expenditure limitation) allows cities to set their own spending limits, rather than relying on the limits that the state sets.

Prescott voters first approved the Home Rule option in 1989. Since then, the issue has gone back on the ballot every four years for an extension of the option.

In 1997, voters overwhelmingly approved the option by a vote of 4,591 to 994.

Watson explained that Home Rule allows the city to spend the money it has in its budget. Under Home Rule, the city could spend about $75 million in the next fiscal year. Under the state-imposed limitation, the city's budget limit would be about $56.5 million for the next fiscal year.

Revenue estimates stay the same, regardless of whether Home Rule is in effect, according to the publicity pamphlet.

Watson pointed out that Home Rule allows the city to spend money for large projects it has budgeted for, such as road projects, open space purchases, and the downtown parking garage.

A 'yes' vote would extend the Home Rule option for another four years.

• Proposition 100 – a change in the city charter that would affect contracts for purchase of city materials.

The current charter requires the city manager to contract for the purchase of supplies, materials, and equipment for city departments.

But, Watson said, the city's procurement code conflicts with the charter by allowing individual city departments to contract for their own purchases, which are in the city budget, for as much as $10,000.

A 'yes' vote would remove the section of the charter that is in conflict with the procurement code.

• Proposition 101 – a change in the city charter that would increase the city manager's authority in selling the city's unneeded personal property.

Currently, the charter limits the city manager's selling authority to property that is worth $500 or less. The charter change would increase that amount to $3,000.

Watson pointed out that the city regularly sells unneeded items, such as old vehicles, by auction. Currently, the sale of anything worth more than $500 must go the City Council.

A 'yes' vote would increase that value to $3,000.

Compiled by Cindy Barks, the Daily Courier's city reporter. Contact her at