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2018 Charter Revision Election
Overview

The Portland City Charter is an important document that serves as the foundation for local government.  Much like the US Constitution or the Texas Constitution gives those governments the instructions for operating, a city's local Charter establishes the framework for how the City operates. 

Cities amend their Charters from time to time as conditions within a city change, to make corrections to the document, or to update provisions because procedures have changed, or a law or regulation has changed. The process for changing the Charter begins with a committee appointed by the City Council making recommendations for changes.  The City Council then calls for a charter election to allow voters to consider the changes.

In November of 2016, the City Council appointed a Charter Review Committee consisting of council members Cathy Skurow and John Green, former mayor Dick Moser, former city council member David Lewis, and citizen Jerry Browning, Jr.  The committee conducted six public meetings throughout 2017 and made their final report to the City Council on January 23, 2018.  The final report recommended changes that would be contained in ten ballot questions. 

On February 6, 2018, the Portland City Council passed Resolution 746 calling for a Special Election on May 5, 2018 on the proposed amendments.

All proposed changes to the Charter can be reviewed in the "redline" version located here.    

The Ballot Questions

The following ten questions (A through I) will appear on the May 5th ballot along with the election of City Council members and Mayor.  (State law requires that charter questions use letters rather than number on a voting ballot)

A. Shall the Portland, Texas City Charter be amended to add a provision to Article IX (General Provisions) that the charter is to be gender-neutral and amended throughout to make the charter language gender-neutral; to correct non-substantive errors such as misspellings, punctuation, grammar and sentence structure; to make non-substantive changes to clarify the meaning of various charter provisions and documented in a proposed City Charter on file with the City Secretary; to conform to requirements and/or provisions of current state law and/or federal law; and to remove charter language that is obsolete?
Committee description of the proposed change
If passed, this amendment would result in removal of approximately 79 gender references.  It would make 41 non-substantive changes to clarify meanings, conform to current laws, and remove obsolete sections and language.
B. Shall the Portland, Texas City Charter Section 2.02, be amended to set compensation for city council members at $25 per meeting and the mayor at $50 per meeting with an annual adjustment each September 30th based on changes to the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U), but not more than 5% in any one year?
Committee description of the proposed change
Council members currently receive $10 per meeting.  The mayor receives $20 per meeting.  The current compensation rates of $10/$20 were set in April of 1970.  The following table shows how this proposal compares with other cities in the area and the state.

 CITY CITY COUNCIL/MAYOR COMPENSATION
Portland (proposed)  $25/$50 per meeting
Rosenberg  $200/$300 per month
Sachse  Determined by City Council
Schertz  Determined by City Council
Sequin  Determined by City Council
Corpus Christi
 $6,000/$9,000 per year
Ingleside  $25 per meeting; max of $50 per month
Aransas Pass
 $1.00 per year
Kingsville  $25/$$50 per meeting
Victoria  Determined by City Council
Alice  $50/$100 per month
Robstown
 $1,200/$1,800 per year

C. Shall the Portland, Texas City Charter, Section 2.04, be amended to clarify that when a mayor or council member ceases to reside inside the city limits of Portland the person's elected position immediately becomes vacant?
Committee Description of the proposed change
Current provision requires residency upon election and states that members must continue to possess qualifications. This change would clarify that requirement that once elected, the person must remain a resident of Portland.
D. Shall the Portland, Texas City Charter, Section 2.06, be amended to clarify that a quorum of a simple majority of the city council is needed to take action during a regular city council meeting?
Committee description of the proposed change
This change would clarify that a quorum is required to conduct business. Currently, the charter requires a simple majority of the "members of council." When less than all seven members are present, "members of council" could be interpreted to mean that a simple majority of the entire seven members is required. Quorum has a universal meaning that would avoid misinterpretation.
E. Shall the Portland, Texas City Charter, Section 2.11, be amended to require a mayor or city council member to immediately forfeit his/her office upon filing as a candidate in any election except one under this charter?
Committee description of the proposed change
Currently, members forfeit their positions when they file to run for any council position if their current term extends beyond election day. This would require resignation to run for any position except a council/mayoral seat.
F. Shall the Portland, Texas City Charter, Section 2.08, be amended to allow for digital scanning, indexing and storage of ordinances and other actions by the city council?
Committee description of the proposed change
The current charter requires use of an indexed ordinance book. This change would modernize the process by allowing filing by electronic scanning and storage.
G. Shall the Portland, Texas City Charter, Section 5.23, be amended to remove the provision that allows the city manager to sell notes at a private sale without advertisement?
Committee description of the proposed change
This section has no practical purpose today given modern fiduciary responsibilities and practices.
H. Shall the Portland, Texas City Charter, Section 5.17, be amended to allow the city council to approve other ways to advertise the sale of city property besides in a local newspaper?
Committee description of the proposed change
This change would broaden the City’s ability to advertise for sale of unused.
I. Shall the Portland, Texas City Charter, Section 5.21, be amended to expand the list of instruments requiring the signatures of both the city manager and the mayor to include "remittances“?
Committee description of the proposed change
This change strengthens the City’s money-handling policy by expanding the list of cash transfers requiring dual signatures.
 J. Shall the Portland, Texas City Charter, Section 3.01, be amended to authorize the city council to set the compensation of the city manager?
Committee description of the proposed change
Although implied in other provisions of the charter, this change clarifies that the city council sets the compensation for the city manager.