BAKER — City Council members are questioning several provisions of the city’s 42-year-old home-rule charter, including the manner of making appointments to city boards and commissions.
Council members, four of whom took office July 1, indicated during a special session Monday they may want to propose changes to the charter.
The charter was approved by the city’s voters in May 1970 and amended in April 1990 to change to single-member council districts.
Councilman Charles Vincent, who led the session, raised questions about several charter sections that involve mayoral and council appointments.
Mayor Harold Rideau said each council member must put the names of those they nominate to serve on boards and commissions on the agenda so all members of the council may vote on them.
Vincent said he also was concerned with a section that requires the city’s capital improvements budget to be sent to the Planning and Zoning Commission for approval.
Councilman Pete Heine suggested amending the section because he believes the planning commission is not involved in capital budget matters.
But former council clerk Jean Byers said the capital budget is sent to the commission only so it can make recommendations for projects the budget may have to fund.
The planning commission appointees serve for nine years to ensure changes to the board do not coincide with elections, and they must receive training to serve on the commission, Byers said.
Asked how a Police Advisory Committee functions, Police Chief Mike Knaps said the 14-member committee was started during Rideau’s first term in office in an effort to bring together the public and the officials to share information on what is going on in the community, Knaps said.
The members are appointed and voted on by the council, Knaps said.
Heine suggested amending a section concerning the Department of Recreation. At one time recreation was funded by BREC and the city, but now the department is funded only by the parish parks commission, Knaps said.
Heine questioned whether a commission is still needed since BREC took over. Vincent said the City Council would look at it, discuss the item and possibly tweak the section.
“We’re going to do some research, look into what Zachary did and review the charter ourselves,” Vincent said about any changes made to the charter.
The process of amending the charter could take months and many work sessions, Heine said.
“It’s kind of our bible of how we operate. It serves the city well. Whatever we do, we want to do it right,” Heine said.