HAMMOND — Hammond voters will decide Nov. 6 whether City Council members may serve an additional term, appoint a temporary mayor or hire outside legal counsel.
Eight propositions came from a council-appointed charter review committee that combed the city’s founding document looking for areas that should be amended.
Proposition 1 would extend City Council member term limits from two to three four-year terms. The change would give council members an opportunity to serve as long as the mayor, Councilman Jason Hood said.
“The committee felt the two should match and that 12 years would be fair and a good number of years to learn the position and be able to do an effective job,” Hood said.
In the case of this council, it could also help to avoid a situation where the council seats and Mayor’s Office all turn over in a single election, he said.
Mayor Mayson Foster is finishing his third term.
Hood and fellow Councilmen Mike Williams and Johnny Blount are also term-limited after serving two terms.
If the two remaining councilmen, Lemar Marshall and Bobby Martin, were to run for mayor or be defeated for council, then city government “could potentially have on-the-job training for everybody at the same time,” Hood said.
Proposition 2 would provide that the council president, a post that rotates among the five-member council, be paid an additional $500 per month above the council member stipend of $1,000 per month.
The increase would be due to the president’s additional responsibilities, Hood said.
Proposition 3 would allow the council to appoint a temporary mayor, other than a council member, if the director of administration were unable to serve in the mayor’s absence.
“When we reviewed the charter, we realized the next in line would be the council president, and most of us have full-time jobs already,” Hood said. “This would allow us to appoint someone to that position. ...”
Proposition 4 would allow the council to hire a separate legal adviser, other than the city attorney, if necessary.
Under the charter, the city attorney serves at the pleasure of the mayor but represents all divisions of city government.
The charter allows the council to approve a contract for special legal counsel, but does not currently specify that the council may hire its own attorney should members deem one to be necessary.
Propositions 5 and 6 would require the police chief and fire chief to meet experience, education and other qualifications.
The charter lists no qualifications for either position.
Under the proposal, each chief would be required to hold a bachelor’s degree in a related field and have six years of experience with two years in a supervisory role, or an associate’s degree in a related field and eight years of experience with two years in a supervisory role.
Each would have to meet state Civil Service requirements and pass a physical exam.
Proposition 7 would expand the charter’s prohibitions on conflicts of interest for elected officials to prevent limited liability corporations from doing business with the city if they have ties to a council member.
“It’s basically just changing the terminology to make things clear,” Hood said.
Proposition 8 would replace the word “repeal” with “replace” in sections outlining procedures for making changes to the charter, so that the city’s governing document could not be altogether repealed without an alternative form of government being substituted.