Hogansville discusses charter changes

Published 9:05 pm Thursday, July 26, 2018

HOGANSVILLE – The Hogansville City Council discussed proposed changes to the current city charter during a Monday evening work session. 

The council discussed, among other possible changes, an amendment to section 2.16 of the city charter. This section of the city charter currently states that four city council members must vote to overturn a mayoral veto in the event the mayor sees fit to issue one, or in the event one member abstains from a vote, then three members must vote to overturn. 

City Councilman Reginald Jackson made it known he wanted this area of the charter updated. 

“I’d like to add a line at the end (of the section) stating, ‘Or if there are four present, three votes are needed,’” Jackson said.

This comment came on the heels of a July 16 city council meeting in which an attempt to overturn a mayoral veto failed. Hogansville Mayor Bill Stankiewicz had issued a mayoral veto, his first since taking office, less than 24 hours after a July 2 city council meeting in which the council voted to rezone a property on East Main Street from commercial use to residential by a 3-2 decision. Stankiewicz issued a veto on July 3, citing that he felt the decision was not in the best interest of the city. 

Per the charter, when a mayor issues a veto, the ordinance or decision is brought back to the council at the next meeting for discussion. The charter currently states four council members must vote to overturn a mayoral veto, unless one member abstains. If one member is absent, four votes are required nonetheless. During the July 16 meeting, councilman George Bailey, who originally voted against the rezoning proposal, was not present. Council members Theresa Strickland, Jackson and Marichal Price voted to overturn the mayoral veto, but councilman Fred Higgins did not, thus the veto did not receive the required four votes. 

No decision was reached at the work session and no further discussion was held, and City Attorney Jeff Todd was asked to confirm if such a change would be done via legislation, also known as a local act, or via a ‘home rule’ charter amendment. A change to a charter that requires a local act must be approved by the Georgia General Assembly, which does not meet again until January 2019. A ‘home rule’ change can be approved by the city council without going through the General Assembly. 

The council also discussed ways to incentive council members to attend meetings when they have not been re-elected to office but are still serving on the council, or to discontinue paying city council members who do not attend a required number of meetings.