Evolution of the charter

The St. Joseph Charter has evolved throughout the city’s history. The first charter, far left, was written in 1909. The second charter, bottom, was written in 1949 and is the longest at 636 pages. The third charter, far right, was approved by voters in 1961. And the current charter, top, was again approved by voters in 1981, and it is available on the city’s website.

The St. Joseph Charter Review Committee met to identify changes, some of which were recommended by city staff, and others that the committee itself is seeking to change.

Any of these potential amendments have to ultimately be voted on by the citizens of St. Joseph.

The current charter was approved by voters in 1981, although it’s changed since then — such as creating five districts inside the city, which are represented by the council.

Between 1981 and 1989, all City Council members were at-large representatives. Now, voters choose three at-large members, the mayor and their district representative.

There have been four St. Joseph City Charters, which act somewhat like constitutions. The first was written in 1909, the second in 1949 and the third in 1961.

Committee Chair Jason Horn outlined a strategy for the charter review where the committee reviewed each section head and asked whether more discussion was needed.

“The Charter Review Board will meet July 30, 4 p.m., here in City Hall. We’re going to start our discussions on elections,” Horn said. “We want to discuss elections as far as when they take place, how often they take place, how many council members — maybe — there are, zoning districts and everything.”

Staggering council members’ elections is also a potential topic to be discussed at the July 30 meeting.

City staff made nine recommendations and of those, the committee plans to review some of those suggestions. Timing of the budget discussions, closing a potential campaign nomination loophole and franchise trash collection service are among those to be discussed.

Other topics included salary and benefits compensation, council member attendance, city manager authority, and the casino’s exemption that allows indoor smoking.

“We kind of went through the macro level today,” Horn said.

The Charter Review Committee members, Ken Beck, Donna Jean Boyer, Brett Carolus, Jeanne Daffron, Derek Evans, Michael Grimm, Rick Hope, Horn, Kevin Kelly, Joseph Marmaud, Byron Myers Sr., John Reese, John Spencer and Rank Still, will review the above-mentioned issues, ask questions to city staff and council members so when they meet again in two weeks they will hopefully have an educated discussion on those changes.

“Should be fun,” Horn said. “The next meeting will be a little bit more of a debate.”

Ryan Hennessy can be reached

at ryan.hennessy@newspressnow.com.

Follow him on twitter: @NPNowHennessy.