Town Hall meeting draws measure of support for changes

 

Judging from the crowds at the town hall meetings at the Bay City Civic Center last Tuesday and Wednesday, the changes to the city’s charter are being well received by the citizens.

“The purpose of this meeting is to introduce to the voters of Bay City the proposed charter changes that will be voted on in May,” said Bay City council member Julie Estlinbaum. 

Bay City Attorney Anne Marie Odefey explained that the city appointed a Charter Review Board Commission to examine the charter to determine if anything needed to be changed with the charter. Bay City Council members began meeting to determine what propositions would be placed on the May ballot.

“I was tasked with getting this election together without it being so confusing,” Odefey said. “(Council members) wanted to simplify the process this year. We have come up with three propositions that will be placed before the voters.”

Proposition A will consider to elect to have a council-manager form of government instead of mayor-council form of government.

Medfay pointed out that in this measure the mayor would have a vote and would become a member of the city council.

Proposition B will consider that council members will now have a three-year term instead of two-year terms in office.

Proposition C will consider that council may appoint a Charter Review Commission if they deem it necessary instead of the mandatory requirement to appoint a Charter Review Commission every five years.

“To change the charter is like changing the Constitution,” Odefey said. “That should come up very infrequently. This council is trying to save this city money by not having a charter commission look at the charter every five years unless council directs them to do it. We estimate a decrease of at least $40,000 every five years and that is a significant savings to the city 

Odefey credited Bay City council members who worked on the proposals that are being presented to the voters in the May election. 

“They are doable and measureable items for the city to consider,” Odefey said. “And I think the council thought the city manager vs. the city mayor form of government was so important that we needed to focus on that during this election. I recommended that we do it in one proposition. We are going to see if it passes or fails and then we are going to put it to rest.”

The majority of the speakers that spoke out during the Tuesday meeting stood in support of the city manager form of government for Bay City. 

One person spoke out against the city manager form of government and was in favor of a city mayor form of government for Bay City.

Carol Wedgworth, a private citizen and a business owner, has been very critical of the actions of the city council against present Bay City Mayor Mark Bricker.

“We have voted down the city manager twice and now you are insisting that we do it again,” Wedgeworth said. “We have council members sitting here in their fourth terms in office and they were supposed to only be here for three terms. Is nobody listening to the public when they vote?

“You keep giving it to us to vote on it and we vote on it and then you bring it back up,” Wedgeworth said. “Alvin, El Campo and Wharton all have city managers but they are not that happy with them. You are trying to pass these proposals that give all the power to the council and demote the mayor. Shame on you.”

Ann Ryan spoke in favor of the city manager form of government.

“I think if we went to a city manager form of government it would save the city a lot of money on legal fees alone,” Ryan said. “We would save on legal fees if we had someone who actually knew what was going on and what the laws were without having an attorney to make every single decision. I just think a CEO of a company, which is what a mayor is, should be able to run a company and not have on the job training to run a city.”

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