Meetings on Tucson Charter changes

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It's the document that governs the way the City of Tucson operates. It's 81-years-old and has been amended on several occasions. But some want to make changes to the City Charter again. And they want you to vote on those changes this November.

A chance to weigh-in on change Wednesday night brought more than 2 dozen people to the Ward 3 office.

"I'm concerned about these charter change amendments," says resident Bob Schlanger.

Discussions centered on the document that serves as the City of Tucson's constitution, and many say change to that document is necessary to improve how the local government operates.

"I think that there is a possibility of actually moving some positive change for Tucson," says Council Member Karin Uhlich.

But just how much change is why Council Member Uhlich wants as much feedback as possible. The debate surrounds four specific issues.

First, deciding who has the authority to hire and fire city department heads.

"We've had city managers come and go. Some of them bring their cronies with them, and displace long-term people that have worked for the city and are dedicated," says Schlanger.

Second, whether to make the mayor and council positions full-time, and pay them to reflect that change.  Meaning the mayor would make $76,000, and council members $61,000.

"The numbers seem actually appropriate for the job. But we're in a budget crunch," says resident George Hubbard.

"We get what we pay for in the long run, and it's a full time job," says Schlanger.

Third, whether to give the mayor the same voting rights as council members.

And lastly, holding city elections every four years rather than every two years.

"I think having some of the council up every 2 years lends stability to the council," says Hubbard.

"I don't understand why you would put the entire council up for election at once. That seems very risky," says Schlanger.

The mayor and council will use this information and next week determine whether to let the voters of Tucson decide on a charter change in the November election.

The council members each want input on the proposed charter changes from people living in their Wards.

For a complete schedule of public meetings related to the charter changes,  visit http://cms3.tucsonaz.gov/hottopic/provide-input-proposed-city-charter-changes