MARQUETTE - A public hearing has been scheduled for Wednesday on the revised Marquette city charter.
Marquette City Charter Commission Chairman Robert Kulisheck said the main goal of the charter rewrite has been to increase citizen involvement and to guarantee responsiveness of city government.
"As we move into the 21st Century and we hope to have more participatory government involving all citizens, this new charter will enable citizens to keep better informed of what's going on, to have more opportunity for input," he said. "And the city will be reporting out strategic planning goals, economic development goals, there will be public review of the (city) manager and attorney each year. This is just going to provide for more transparency and also for more participation."
Much of the review process involved modernizing the 61-year-old charter and Kulisheck said numerous clauses were outdated, unwieldy or superseded by legislation or legal precedent and were updated or removed.
The group also made several changes to remaining charter clauses, including the establishment of an updated communication plan, the promotion of intergovernmental relations and cooperation, clarification of the relationship between the city and the board of light and power, clarification of procedures related to the long-term leasing of property and inclusion of a mandate to undertake an annual evaluation of the city manager and city attorney.
The proposed document would mandate the city commission form a charter study group each decade to review the city's governing document.
Under the new charter, the city commission will be given one year to draft an ethics ordinance that will cover all city employees, elected officials and volunteers, including those related to the board of light and power.
The charter will also require the city manager to submit to the city commission a strategic plan for the city every two years. While the city currently has a master plan, charter commission Vice Chairman Tom Baldini said a strategic plan would hopefully look at the future from a different angle.
"Strategic planning is more than the master plan," he said. "It doesn't involve just 'Where is the road, the sewer, the water system going to go?' It's also, 'Where are we going to go, as a city?'"
The master plan and strategic plan will work hand-in-hand, Kulisheck and Baldini said.
The charter commission made a clear decision to address many of the topics in an indirect way, allowing future commissions to govern by specific ordinance.
"It will require public hearings and public input, but it will give the opportunity then to change provisions in the charter to reflect changing conditions in society without going through a major charter revision or even amendments, which are very difficult," Kulisheck said
Copies of the proposed charter can be viewed at Peter White Public Library, in the clerk's office at city hall and online at www.mqtcty.org.
If the proposed charter is approved by the charter commission Wednesday, it will be submitted to the state attorney general's office. Pending approval by the attorney general and the governor, the charter will be returned to the commission, which will then draft language to place an item on the November ballot.
Ballot language must be drafted and submitted to the county clerk by Aug. 28.
If approved by the voters in November, the charter will take effect Jan. 1, 2013.
Wednesday's meeting is at 6 p.m. in commission chambers at city hall.
Kyle Whitney can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.