13 propositions up for decision by Prescott voters in Nov. 7 general election
(This is the first of two Daily Courier articles on the 13 propositions that appear on the City of Prescott ballot for the Nov. 7 general election. Click HERE to read the second article.)
The duration of the mayor’s term, the pay that City Council members earn and rules regarding the sale or lease of city property all could change soon, depending on the will of city voters in the Nov. 7 general election.
The ballots that were mailed out earlier this month to registered city voters contain 13 propositions that ask voters whether the city should change a number of points in the City Charter.
Yavapai County Registrar of Voters Matt Webber said Friday, Oct. 20 that 34,175 ballots were sent out to Prescott voters on Oct. 11.
At the same time, the county sent out another 20,076 ballots to voters in Sedona, Ash Fork and Chino Valley for elections in those communities — for a total of 54,251 ballots for the Nov. 7 general election.
By Friday afternoon, Webber said the county had accepted 4,486 ballots from all four of the elections. The number of ballots that have come specifically from Prescott voters has yet to be determined, he said.
Webber said voters still have another week or so to return their ballots through the mail. In order to ensure that ballots arrive in time to be counted on Nov. 7, he said, “The last day people should mail their ballots is Oct. 31.”
After that, voters should drop off their ballots at the County Administration Building, 1015 Fair St., Prescott.
CHARTER AMENDMENT PROCESS
The 13 city propositions are the result of months of discussions by the six-member ad hoc Mayor’s Charter Review Commission, which began meeting in early 2023.
Mayor Phil Goode said the review of the City Charter originated after he had issues several years ago with the way the city handled the lease/purchase of city-owned land that is now the site of the Hilton Garden Inn in downtown Prescott.
The City Charter did not specifically address the lease/purchase of city property, and Goode said when he became mayor in 2021, one of his priorities was to review the charter to look at that issue and other possibly outdated or unclear charter sections.
Mayor Pro Tem Brandon Montoya said Goode talked to him early in the process about a Charter Review Commission and asked if Montoya would serve as a council liaison to the commission.
Montoya agreed and attended commission meetings. “There was a lot of engagement,” he said of the discussions that took place on the proposed charter amendments.
Throughout the spring and summer, Charter Review Commission Chairman Charlie Arnold made several presentations to the City Council on the proposed charter amendment propositions, and some of the amendments were adjusted based on feedback for the council.
The council voted on June 27 to put the 13 proposed propositions on the ballot to let Prescott voters decide the outcome.
VARIETY OF AMENDMENTS
Montoya noted that several of the changes are considered “housekeeping” matters, for which a change is being proposed to make the City Charter consistent with the Arizona Revised Statutes – for example, Proposition 463, which would clarify the role of the City Clerk in receiving nomination petition papers.
Other propositions are being proposed to clarify the city’s election process, such as Proposition 467, which would update the language on qualifications for candidates moving on to the general election (after the primary).
Still others are specific changes that are being proposed on matters pertaining to the mayor and council, such as Proposition 472, which would increase the mayor’s term from the current two years to four years, and Proposition 471, which would increase the stipends (monthly pay) for the mayor and council.
A publicity pamphlet was mailed to registered voters in early October to list the propositions and give brief explanations. Although the city announced in August that it was seeking pro or con arguments on the propositions to be included in the pamphlet, City Clerk Sarah Siep said no arguments were submitted on any of the propositions, and none appear in the pamphlet.
The first four propositions listed on the ballot include:
PROPOSITIONS 461 TO 464
• Proposition 461: An amendment that would clarify the rules for City Council members’ attendance and absences at council meetings. The proposition would delete the section that states that any council member absent from more than two consecutive meetings would “cease to hold office.” In its place would be language that would require a council member to give at least 24-hour notice in advance of an absence. If a council member is absent for at least three consecutive meetings without giving prior notice, they would cease to hold office, although exceptions would be made for emergency situations.
Montoya noted that the change would be consistent with the amended Council Rules and Procedures that were approved by the council in July 2022.
• Proposition 462 – an amendment that would lengthen the amount of time that the city has to respond to a written petition from a citizen from 30 days to 60 days.
Montoya said the amendment was considered because of input from city staff that 30 days might not be enough time to adequately research an issue and get back to the petitioner.
• Proposition 463 – an amendment that would clarify the duties of the City Clerk in receiving nomination papers from City Council candidates.
Siep explained that the amendment would bring the City Charter into conformance with state law. The proposed amendment would delete wording that would require the city to verify that candidates are qualified electors of the city for one year prior to the primary, as well as a requirement for removal of signatures of petition signers who list an address outside of the city, or people who sign a petition before the Statement Organization is filed.
In place of the deleted language, the amendment would require the clerk to determine that the nomination petitions are substantially in regular form and contain the requisite number of signatures.
Siep said her office has already been complying with state law on the matter, and the process for filing of nomination papers would not change under the amendment.
• Proposition 464 – an amendment that would change the contract period for an independent auditor for city government from the current three years to five years.
Montoya said the change is considered a housekeeping matter to make the city’s auditing contracting process consistent with the accounting industry.
(Watch The Daily Courier on Tuesday, Oct. 24, for the remaining nine propositions.)
Follow Cindy Barks on Twitter @Cindy_Barks. Reach her at 928-445-3333, ext. 2034, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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