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Sun, Aug. 18

Resignation prompts replacement policy discussion for Prescott city council

PRESCOTT - A 12-year-old City Council policy on filling vacant council seats could go away this week.

In the wake of Councilman John Hanna's Tuesday announcement that he would resign from the council, effective March 27, to run for the District 1 seat on the Yavapai County Board of Supervisors, the Prescott City Council is again dealing with how best to fill a vacancy.

As a part of that, council members will consider repealing a city resolution that the council approved in 2000 while considering the replacement for former Councilwoman Lucy Mason, who had resigned to run for the Arizona House of Representatives.

The 2000 resolution requires the city to advertise for a council vacancy, and then interview the selected applicants in public before choosing the replacement in a public meeting.

Repeal of the policy is among the items on the agenda for the council voting session 3 p.m. Tuesday at Prescott City Hall, 201 S. Cortez St.

According to a city memo on the matter, the 2000 policy "was found to be cumbersome, inflexible and unresponsive to the possible situations which can arise in the events of such vacancies," during last summer's replacement of former City Councilwoman Tammy Linn.

By repealing the policy, the memo added, the council could "move as expeditiously as necessary when a vacancy arises."

The agenda item also includes a possible emergency clause on the repeal, which would make the action effective immediately.

City Manager Craig McConnell noted that even though the repeal of the council policy would remove the requirement for public interviews of the replacement hopefuls, "The council does meet in public, and any decision [on a replacement] would take place in public."

Also affecting the pending replacement of Hanna is a city charter amendment that Prescott voters approved in 2011, which gives the council a choice of whether to appoint a replacement for the remainder of the unexpired term, or to set a special election to allow the voters to choose a permanent replacement.

McConnell said Gov. Jan Brewer has yet to sign that charter amendment to make it official.

Even so, because more than one-half of Hanna's term has already expired, the terms of the current city charter would not require a special election.

Also at Tuesday's meeting, the council will consider accepting Hanna's resignation.

In other action, the council will:

• Consider three items in closed-door executive session. Among the topics: Consideration of a change in city employee benefits from the current vacation-and-sick-leave system to a "personal time off" system.

McConnell said the change is under consideration as a cost-saving measure for the city, as the 2012/2013 fiscal-year budget approaches.

The personal time off system would combine sick leave and vacation time into one pool of time off.

The executive session is necessary, McConnell said, to consider employee law on the matter.

"There are really two major considerations," he said. "We need to satisfy that [any changes are] both legal and fair."

Other executive session items include: the Crossings legal issues and claims, and the airport runway project.

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