At its Oct. 23 meeting, the Wildwood City Council approved the addition of five amended ordinances to the city charter to the April 2018 ballot. The charter amendments were among a variety of proposals recommended by a charter review commission. Each of the five items was amended and received an individual vote by the council to specify items like term limits.
“The intent was to try and make this a little more clear for voters with the wording and still meet the number of word restrictions we have,” Councilmember Jim Baugus [Ward 3] said.
Each of the five bills was individually amended and voted on by the council.
Bill #2309 discussed limiting future council service [beginning April 3, 2018] to no more than eight years total, exclusive of service for remainders of unexpired terms. The charter now prohibits any person from serving more than four consecutive terms of office at a time [exclusive of serving remainders of unexpired terms] as a councilmember but permits serving an unlimited number of non-consecutive terms. The bill was amended for clarity and passed 13-2, with Councilmember Tammy Shea [Ward 3] and Councilmember Debra Smith McCutchen [Ward 5] opposed.
Bill #2310 discussed limiting the mayor’s term to no more than eight years total, exclusive of service for remainders of unexpired terms [beginning April 3, 2018]. The charter now prohibits any person from serving more than two consecutive terms of office at a time [exclusive of serving remainders of unexpired terms] as mayor but permits serving an unlimited number of non-consecutive terms. The bill was amended for clarity and passed 13-2 with Shea and McCutchen opposed.
Bill #2311 discussed restricting expenditures funded by city revenues raised by city taxes and fees and exceeding a total project cost to the city of $3.5 million, or as adjusted annually, for the construction or reconstruction of a capital improvement [exclusive of streets and public transit] until such expenditures are approved by the voters. The bill was amended for clarity and passed 12-3, with Shea, McCutchen and Councilmember Jeff Levitt [Ward 7] opposed.
Bill #2312 discussed limiting individuals to two full terms of service on any committee, board or commission. No time of service resulting from an appointment made prior to April 3, 2018, or service of less than a full term, would be counted. Current term limits vary from position to position, but individuals can be reappointed. The bill was amended for clarity and passed the most narrowly of the five with a 10-5 vote. Councilmember Don Bartoni [Ward 2], Councilmember Greg Alexander [Ward 6], Councilmember Greg Stine [Ward 7], Shea and Levitt were in opposition.
Some councilmembers agreed that some term limits were adequate, but also discussed the possibility of cycling new talent through the community.
“We’ve got a city of 35,000 plus people and growing,” Councilmember Ray Manton [Ward 2] said. “We need some fresh eyes on that situation, and we always have volunteers for these committees.”
Other councilmembers argued it was more valuable to keep current and experienced members of the committees on the boards, and that the current term limits are sufficient.
“The reason I’m specifically against this is because we have some really important boards, like the Planning & Zoning Commission,” Shea said. “The wealth of experience, knowledge and exposure you’d be dumping just after two terms, and on Planning & Zoning, you’re just starting to scratch the surface detail, depth and intricacies of our zoning laws.”
Bill #2312 discussed allowing nominations of a board, committee or commission member by any member of the council, and selected with the consent of a two-thirds majority of the remaining council members, to fill a vacancy if the mayor fails to make an appointment within 45 days from the occurrence of a vacancy or within 45 days from any failure of the council to consent to the mayor’s appointment to fill a vacancy. The bill was amended for clarity and passed 13-2 with Shea and McCutchen opposed.
The bills will appear on the April 3, 2018, ballot for voters to approve or deny.