City Charter language dating back decades could change under General Election propositions

City of Prescott/Courtesy

City of Prescott/Courtesy

(This is the second of two Daily Courier articles on the 13 propositions that appear on the city ballot for the Nov. 7 general election. Click HERE to read the first article.)

For nearly two and a half decades, the Prescott mayor and City Council have been paid the same monthly stipend for service on the council — an amount that is at or lower than the pay for councils in surrounding communities.

Prescott voters could change that in the upcoming election by approving a proposition that would raise the stipend amount. The raise in mayor and council pay is one of 13 propositions up for consideration by Prescott voters in the Nov. 7 General Election.

Currently, the mayor gets paid a stipend of $750 per month, while council members earn $500 per month. Those amounts date back to 1999, city officials say. The proposition would raise those amounts to $1,250 and $850, respectively.

Another long-held city practice is the mayor’s term of two years. A proposed proposition would increase the duration of the term to four years — the same as the terms for City Council members.

Ballots for the General Election were mailed out to registered Prescott voters on Oct. 11, and voters have until 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 7, to return the ballots.

Because all of the City Council races were decided in the August 2023 primary, the November ballot features only the propositions, which the City Council placed on the ballot with a June vote.

The first four propositions were featured in an article on Sunday, Oct. 22. The final nine propositions include:

• Propositions 465 and 470 — amendments that would set requirements for the lease of city-owned real property and would amend the requirements for the sale of city property.

Proposition 465 states that the lease of city property that includes an option for the lessee to buy must comply with city requirements for the sale of property, with the property being appraised within a year of the execution of the lease.

In addition, if the property value exceeds $4 million, the process must comply with the requirements set out for the sale of city-owned property.

Proposition 470 would require that real property with a value exceeding $4 million cannot be sold unless the city conducts two public hearings to receive public comment within a 60-day period prior to a council decision. In addition, the proposition would require that the sale be authorized by a super majority of the council (three-fourths of council).

Mayor Phil Goode, who appointed the ad hoc Mayor’s Charter Review Commission to consider possible amendments to the charter, said it was the city’s handling of the lease/purchase of the city-owned land that currently serves as the site for the Hilton Garden Inn in downtown Prescott that prompted him to start the review of the City Charter.

• Proposition 466 — an amendment that would clarify that the Mayor Pro Tem be chosen each year from among the council members to serve a one-year term. The decision would be made at the second regularly scheduled meeting in November.

The proposition proposes deleting the language that the Mayor Pro Tem would serve at the pleasure of the council.

Current Mayor Pro Tem Brandon Montoya, who served as the council liaison to the Charter Review Commission, said the amendment would bring the City Charter into conformance with the city’s current policies.

• Proposition 467 — an amendment that would update and simplify the language for the qualifications for candidates moving on to the general election from the primary.

The proposition proposes deleting much of the language of the current charter and replacing it with wording that states that in the event that no candidate is elected in the Primary Election, the race would go to the General Election. The only candidates allowed to run in the General Election would be those who received the highest number of votes in the primary, up to twice the number of positions to be filled.

Montoya said the proposition is intended to create clarity in situations in which a candidate who received enough votes to move on to the General Election drops out of the race before the ballots are printed. When that has happened in the past, questions have come up about whether the next-highest vote getter should move up and be placed on the ballot. The proposition would clarify that the next highest vote getter would not move up in that instance.

• Proposition 468 — an amendment that would increase the required residency in Prescott for candidates running for Prescott City Council and mayor from the current one year to three years.

• Proposition 469 — an amendment dealing with the process for removal of a city manager by the City Council.

The new language would state that the city manager would “serve at the pleasure of the council,” and would remove the language that states that the manager could be removed without cause “upon the vote of five of seven council members.”

• Proposition 471 — an amendment that would raise the amount of the monthly stipend that the City Council members and mayor are paid.

The proposition proposes raising the mayor’s stipend from $750 to $1,250 per month, and the City Council members’ monthly stipend from $500 to $850 per month.

Prescott’s current monthly stipends are reportedly lower than those paid to Prescott Valley mayor and Town Council members, who are paid $1,050 per for mayor, and $700 per month for council, and similar to the amounts paid to Chino Valley mayor and Town Council members ($750 for mayor, and $500 for council).

• Proposition 472 — an amendment that would double the duration of the term of Prescott mayor, from the current two-year term to a four-year term.

Montoya said the reasoning for the amendment proposal was that two years gives the mayor a relatively short time to learn the job and serve before having to “immediately turn around” and run again. He added that both Prescott Valley and Chino Valley have four-year terms for mayor.

• Proposition 473 — an amendment that would remove the choice the council currently has in filling a vacancy on the council. Currently, a vacancy can be filled either for the remainder of the term, or until the next regularly scheduled election.

The proposed new wording would allow the council only to make an appointment until the next regularly scheduled election “if the vacancy occurs more than 90 days before the nomination petition deadline for said election. Otherwise, the appointment would be for the unexpired term.”

The proposition also states that in the case of a vacancy in the mayor’s position, the council would appoint from the remaining members a council member to serve as mayor for the remainder of the outgoing mayor’s term. The vacancy created on the council by that action would then be filled by appointing a new council member in accordance with the requirement on filling the position until the next regularly scheduled election.

Follow Cindy Barks on Twitter @Cindy_Barks. Reach her at 928-445-3333, ext. 2034, or cbarks@prescottaz.com.


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