McKinney leaders to appoint citizens committee to review charter amendment election

A citizens committee is expected to be appointed by the McKinney City Council at its next regular meeting to consider a possible charter amendment election.

Council members reviewed the proposed election during a May 7 work session and determined the need to create a citizens committee to review the issue.

The details

Council members Geré Feltus and Justin Beller requested that discussion of the potential charter amendment election be added to the agenda, according to the meeting presentation.

Council members requested four topics be considered for possible inclusion in the potential election, including changes to:

  • Terms of office
  • Term limits
  • Board Remuneration
  • Composition of council member constituencies

An election to amend the charter, which would have considered changes to the length and term limits of council members, was considered earlier this year.

Council members opted not to call an election to amend the Charter during the May election and instead consider the item on the November ballot or in future elections. McKinney Mayor George Fuller said the November election would likely see higher turnout.

“The reason we decided to push this debate, which may or may not result in a referendum, is because we thought that if we were to put something on the ballot, next November, being a presidential election , (we) couldn’t imagine a higher turnout,” Fuller said.

The implementation

The city has held five charter-changing elections since 2000, according to the meeting presentation.

In 2001, a total of 10 proposals were considered, including seven general items “cleaning up” language in the city charter and three items related to the council’s role, including term limits and meeting allowances. All proposals were adopted.

In 2004, two proposals were considered and only one was adopted, for a “general cleanup” of the charter, according to city documents. The failed article would have removed the cap on council members’ meeting allowances.

In 2011, a total of three proposals were adopted, including two “clean-up” items as well as an item increasing the term of city council members from three to four years. The item also included clarifying term limits, according to city documents.

In 2014, voters considered and adopted 10 propositions, including:

  • Three elements related to board qualifications
  • Two points for general cleanup of language in city charter
  • Two points to clarify the power of appointment and dismissal of board members
  • An item to remove the cap on meeting allowances
  • A point to allow vacancies on the board to be filled by appointment
  • An element to allow firefighters to have additional investigative powers

The most recent charter amendment election took place in 2019 and included two items, both of which passed, according to city documents. Items included reducing the signature threshold needed to initiate a recall election and clarifying recall elections to hold them citywide.

What they say

Feltus said she was advocating for this item to be considered because of the growth in the McKinney area since the last election changing the charter on term limits and terms.

“We are in no way taking away the ability for anyone to vote on what they prefer, whether we keep the terms exactly as they are or change them,” she said. “With so many people moving into town, it’s fair to wonder … what people prefer.”

She also said the election could result in increased pay for council members. Additional compensation could provide more opportunities for people wanting to serve on the council, she said.

“Personally, I don’t worry about compensation. What worries me are people who are absolutely qualified to fill this seat but don’t have the financial means to do so,” she said. “Are we providing them with the means to cover all the periods when they need to be away from work?

Beller mentioned that due to the city’s growth, the number of residents in each municipal district has increased, making representation difficult.

“One of the goals of districts was to provide direct representation, and that (is) becoming more and more difficult,” he said.

Five community members spoke at the meeting, expressing concerns about any changes to the charter that would extend term limits and term lengths.

“When we have new members (on the council), we get fresh blood and new ideas,” McKinney resident Donald Silver said at the meeting.

Looking forward

Council members asked city staff to implement a citizen committee process at the meeting.

The committee will examine term limits, term limits, compensation and district makeup, but is also expected to examine the city charter as a whole.

Council members are expected to select three candidates before the May 21 meeting. After the nominations, the committee would meet weekly or biweekly in June and July and is expected to present the results to council members in August, Director of Strategic Services Trevor Minyard said.

If council members decide to move forward with the charter amendment election, it would have to be called by Aug. 19 to be included on the November general election ballot, said Minyard. If it were to take place during the May 2025 elections, it should be called by February 2025.