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Pilot Point ballot features 27 propositions



By Abigail Allen

Editor & Publisher


       Pilot Point voters have 27 charter ballot amendments on their May 4 ballots.


       The Charter Commission proposed 26 of them, with Proposition A being an addition to the special election by the council.


       The Charter Commission met from November through January to develop the proposed changes.


       John Haughton served as the chairman, with Dennis Fritz, Maureen Haverty, Billy Ray Pedigo, Julie Phillips, Pearlie Mae Simpson and Andy Singleton as well as council members Ray Dane and Brian Heitzman serving on the commission.


       The commission and the City Council held a joint workshop on Jan. 29 where 40 possible amendments were proposed.


       "We're trying to figure out what's the easiest ways to get through these where we can figure out how many amendments are the most critical to the council to put on the ballot because [40] is too much," Mayor Elisa Beasley said in the meeting.


       Grouping similar amendments is not allowed by law, City Attorney Brenda McDonald said.


       Mayor Pro Tem Andrew Ambrosio asked what would happen if the amendments that would bring the charter into compliance with state law fail.


       "We don't always have to conform with state law," McDonald said because Pilot Point is a home-rule city.


       Although not every individual amendment was approved by a unanimous vote of the elected officials during the workshop, the vote to accept the 26 amendments as presented was approved unanimously.


       The full discussion of each ballot item is available at https://cityofpilotpoint.granicus.com/player/clip/118?view_id=1&redirect=true.


       The charter amendments can be grouped into four categories: economic development; city council and elections; city personnel policies; and board and commission policies.

      



Economic development

       Prop A would shift one-half of 1 percent of sales tax revenue into a dedicated street maintenance fund instead of it being used for general property tax reduction.


       General property tax reduction goes into the general fund, which pays for anything from salaries to office supplies.


       Prop B would allow the city to sell bonds for economic development incentive projects.

 

City council and elections

       Prop C would change the charter to require council members to attend the meetings in person.


       Prop D would bring the city into compliance with state law that a special election must be held within 120 days of a council vacancy "with the exception of terms with less than 12 months remaining which may be filled by appointment," the ballot reads.


       Prop F would alter the charter to reflect the state's election laws.


       Prop G would change the number of signatures required for a petition for recall "from 25 percent of those who voted for that place or position in the last regular general election to 25 percent of those who were registered to vote on the date of the last general municipal election."


       Prop H would similarly change the number of signatures needed for an initiative petition, and Prop I would require the same for a referendum petition.


       In the May 6, 2023, election, the race between Bobbie Jezek and Chad Major drew 740 voters of the 2,837 registered voters within the city.


       That would change the number of signatures from 185 to 752.


       "My only beef with this is, right now, we're only 5,000 people," Beasley said. "In 20 years, we're going to be 70,000 people."

       McDonald's response was that "if only 5,000 voted at the last election, 1,500 of 70,000 people could recall you from office because you didn't vote for twice-a-week garbage pickup."


       City Manager Britt Lusk added "the chair was saying that he prefers it to be more restrictive to have to undo something that the voters did."


       "Right," Beasley said. "I agree."


       Prop P would alter the charter to authorize the Denton County Judge as the authority to appoint a successor City Council if an emergency occurs instead of the Pilot Point Chamber of Commerce and Pilot Point ISD board.


       Prop R would shift the annual state of the city from being presented by the mayor alone to include the entire City Council.


       Prop S would require the council to unanimously declare a vacancy if a council member is absent too many times, excluding the council member who would be removed.


       Prop X, if approved, would change the minimum age for a candidate to serve on City Council from 18 to 21.


       Prop Y would "correct the process for delivery of election results and require that the City Council take action to canvass the election as the first item on the agenda following the City’s receipt of the official election results."


       Prop Z would require the council to have a 2/3 majority, which would mean five of the seven voting members, "to submit legislation to an initiative or referendum election."


       Prop AA would change the rules regarding public hearing on the budget to align with state law.



City personnel policies

       Prop E would change the charter to allow administrative approval and amendment of employee policies.


       Prop J would mirror state law in requiring "the City Manager to submit the proposed annual budget to the City Council."


       Prop K would change the charter requirement that the city change audit firms every five years.


       "This isn't in state law," McDonald said. "Our depository bank we have to go out for every five years, but we have imposed on ourself the requirement to change audit firms every five years. And [Finance Director Michele Sanchez] doesn't want to do that. It does take an audit firm several years to fully understand your financials."


       Beasley asked whether a 10 or 15 year requirement be swapped for the five.


       "I don't believe we should be bouncy, but I do believe that we should have fresh eyes," Beasley said.


       McDonald recommended setting a policy instead of having a time limit in the charter itself.


       Prop Q would change the city's open records laws to "mirror the Texas Public Information Act with regard to the inspection of public records."


       That includes giving the staff time to prepare for a request.


       Prop T would remove the requirement that the council vote on amended ordinances "at a subsequent meeting."


       Prop U would require a 2/3 vote—five of the seven voting members—instead of a simple majority to terminate the city manager, and Prop V would make the same change in regard to the city secretary.


       "For general-law cities, a vote to remove a city official is a two-thirds requirement," McDonald said. "… I think the commission and [City Manager Britt Lusk] and [City Secretary Lenette Cox] thought this was important for them for job security so they're not subject to political whims. Nobody wants to work for a city council when five members don't want you there, but you would work for a city council when four members don't want you there."


       Prop W would add conducting the city's elections to the city secretary's list of responsibilities.

 

Board and commission policies

       Prop L would remove the requirement that City Council receive a written report within three weeks of every Planning and Zoning Commission meeting, to match state law.


       Prop M would change the requirement to elect officers in the same month in which they are appointed, July, instead of each January.


       Prop N would eliminate the requirement for the P&Z to meet monthly and to allow it to meet "as needed with minutes of every meeting maintained as a permanent public record."


       Prop O would "remove requirement for the Planning & Zoning Commission to develop a Comprehensive Plan because the plan is developed by others."

      

Election information

       Early voting opens Monday and will continue through April 30. From Monday through April 27, the polls will be open from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. in Denton County. April 28, the polls will be open from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. On April 29 and 30, polling locations will be open from 7 a.m.-7 p.m.


       On Election Day, May 4, voters are required to vote from their precinct office only, and the polls will be open from 7 a.m.-7 p.m.


       Access votetexas.gov for general election information. Denton County voters can visit votedenton.gov and Grayson County voters can visit co.grayson.tx.us/page/elec.home.



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