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County Council to shelve proposal for electing a charter commission in 2013

Post by Steve Maynard / The News Tribune on June 19, 2012 at 2:10 pm with No Comments »
June 19, 2012 4:47 pm

It looks like Pierce County voters won’t be electing a charter review commission in 2013.

The County Council is expected this afternoon to shelve a proposal for voters to elect a 21-member panel that would recommend changes to the county charter two years before the next required commission election in 2015.

The reason for the delay: both the county’s and City of Tacoma’s charter amendments would appear on the same ballot in 2014.

County Auditor Julie Anderson raised concerns last week about the county and city having charter amendments on the same ballot.

Council member Rick Talbert, D-Tacoma, said today there could be an “extreme amount of confusion” with numerous amendments from both the county and city on the same ballot. City residents would vote on both the city’s and county’s charter amendments.

Council Chairwoman Joyce McDonald, R-Puyallup, agreed “there could be a lot of confusion.”

In an email to council members, Anderson not only voiced concern that two sets of charter amendments could confuse some voters. She also said the sheer number of charter amendments would increase election costs by likely requiring a second ballot card.

Council member Tim Farrell, D-Tacoma, said the potential for confusion over two sets of amendments could be alleviated by numbering the items in a way to make it more clear which ones are for the city and which ones are for the county. But he said the possibility of two ballots was a cause for concern.

Farrell said he’d rather not wait past 2013 for the election but conceded his colleagues made some good points at a study session today.

Farrell proposed having the election in 2013 after the council shot down his proposal in April to have the commission election this year.

The council also can put charter amendments on the ballot. It has considered several charter amendments in the past year.

Last month, the council revised a proposed charter amendment from council member Roger Bush, R-Frederickson. It voted 5-2 to put a charter amendment on the Nov. 6 ballot that would require any new county tax to be approved by a supermajority of five council members.

Farrell and Talbert voted “no.” Bush’s original proposal was for an amendment requiring voters to approve any new county tax.

Talbert had co-sponsored Farrell’s proposal for a 2013 election. But he agreed today to make a motion at this afternoon’s council meeting to postpone Farrell’s proposal indefinitely.

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