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Council moves City Charter changes forward

The Tucson City Council took a step toward asking the voters to approve changes to the City Charter on Tuesday.

The council voted unanimously to ask the city attorney to prepare draft language for charter changes that would increase the power of the mayor, boost council salaries, change election timing, and remove civil service protection from department heads.

Tucson's charter sets out the structure of city government; it is essentially the city constitution.

The Tucson Charter Change Coalition, a group spearheaded by members of the Southern Arizona Leadership Council, is pushing for changes in the charter. Coalition supporters say that the changes will increase the efficiency and effectiveness of city government.

The proposed changes:

Change the city manager's relationship to the council

The charter and Tucson's civil service rules would be changed to eliminate civil service protection for department heads and their deputies.

The city manager would have the authority to hire and fire most department heads, with the consent of the mayor and councill. The city attorney and city clerk would be under the authority of the council.

Some department heads would be directly under the authority of the city manager.

Boost mayor and council salaries

The mayor and council would be paid based on the salaries of the county Board of Supervisors. Supervisors' salaries are set by the legislature every four years.

The mayor's salary would be raised to $76,600, equal to a supervisor's pay. Council members would be paid $61,280, 80 percent of the mayor's salary.

Establish mayoral parity

The mayor would have the same voting rights as council members, be deemed a member of the council, and count toward a quorum. Currently, there are issues on which the mayor may not vote, and only council members count toward a quorum.

Change the election cycle

City elections, now held in odd-numbered years, would be moved to even-numbered years. Holding elections at the same time as county and state elections could lead to lower costs, charter change supporters say.

The council plans to review the proposed charter changes, and vote on whether to refer them to the ballot for November's election by the July 7 council meeting.

Check back for updates.

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1 comment on this story

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43 comments
Jun 16, 2010, 9:05 am
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Problem is, the sorts likely to be elected are still gonna be mostly well-meaning folks with little or no management skills and beholden for the most part to the political machine that got them elected.  Tucson has no significant private sector leaders any longer…the sort with a history in the community and who will be here “for the duration.”

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