The Nov. 8 general election is a month away and the city of Delaware residents will have to decided upon two local issues on the ballot.
Of the most well publicized is the the proposed income tax increase from 1.85 percent to 2 percent beginning Jan. 1. The additional 0.15 percent in income tax would generate $2.2 million to solely pay the costs of improving and maintaining the city’s transportation system as part of the Moving Delaware Forward initiative.
But Delaware voters will also decide whether to approve amendments to the city’s charter. As required every eight years by the same document, a review commission of nine electors was formed to review the charter and make amendment recommendations to Council, which approved them without change in July.
The 2016 Charter Review Commission recommended 34 changes to the charter that fall in one or two of the following categories: modernization, clarification and style/cleanup.
Modernization changes are for outdated provisions that do not apply to how government operates now, according to the commission, such as changes to Section 5 of the charter that would allow council to approve intergovernmental agreements as a resolution rather than an ordinance.
Clarification changes aim to improve confusing or ambiguous charter sections such as charter Section 4A, which refers to the limits on the city’s eminent domain — or right to take private property for public use with compensation — for economic development. For that section, the commission made the following changes:
• Renamed the section as “city prohibited from using eminent domain solely for economic development.”
• Removed a provision that prohibits the city to acquire private property for economic development and replaced it with another stating the city “recognizes and adheres to state law restricting the use of eminent domain powers solely for economic development.”
• Clarified that definition of economic development is for the purposes of that section alone.
• Removed the provision that the limitations shall not apply until after Nov. 20, 2008 — which had already passed.
“The limitation on using eminent domain for economic development is not a statewide restriction, so Section 4A is no longer necessary,” the commission said in a background report to Council. “However, the commission felt that striking the section could cause confusion because it would look like the voters were voting to remove the prohibition. The recommended change aligns the Charter with State law without appearing to endorse using eminent domain for economic development projects.”
Addtionally, style/cleanup changes were to make the document more readable and understandable, according to the commission, such as Section 47, which clarifies the timing and parameters for a possible suspension of the city manager.
The commission did consider two proposals, but ultimately decided not to recommend this year, which were the expansion of wards and requiring a candidate to receive 50 percent of the vote to be elected as a ward council member. It believed the next commission should give both topics strong consideration.
Brandon Klein can be reached at 740-413-0904 or on Twitter at @brandoneklein.