The Crookston Charter Commission met Monday evening in the Council Chambers at City Hall. The committee reviewed the 2019 meeting with new City Administrator Amy Finch to begin to move on items that have come into question in the charter over the past 15 months.
Blake Carlson asked whether the issue of a special election had yet to be resolved. The City has two conflicting legal opinions, one from former City Attorney Chuck Fitzgerald stating that the city can’t hold a special election, and one from current City Attorney Corky Reynolds that they can. Finch said that city staff would to clarify that and have a proposal for the commission at the next meeting. “There was discussion this evening that the special election section may contradict the vacancy section for appointments that says – fill a vacancy for the remainder of an unexpired term,” said Finch. “The special election section says that the council may call by resolution a special election. We’re going to sort that out and work with the attorney and possibly the League of (Minnesota) Cities.”
The other issue in the charter that was discussed was the number of votes required. Chris Fee said that the concern during the vacancies was that if someone missed a council meeting, you possibly wouldn’t have enough votes to approve bills or other city business. The charter currently requires five affirmative votes to appoint someone to a vacancy or pass any resolution, ordinance, or motion regardless of the number of Council Members present. Five Council Members plus the Mayor or Assistant Mayor are required to have a quorum.
Betty Arvidson said the committee had previously discussed whether the majority of Council Members could pass a vote versus having a specific number. Finch said she’d read some other local charters that aren’t as specific as Crookston’s, and she thought the wording could be changed to represent a majority vote. “We’re also going address the number of votes, also in the vacancy section,” said Finch. “Our charter is very specific on the number of votes needed for an appointment where there was a situation with two vacancies where you could run into an issue where you don’t have enough votes to make that appointment. We’re going to look into that and come back to schedule a follow-up meeting in late April/early May to come back with some proposals for the committee, so we can have something ready for them to recommend to Council by the end of the year. There are ways to word that, so it’s a majority of your filled Council seats. So, we’re going to look at some options and bring that back for the committee to discuss and decide on to give staff direction for the later meeting (in December).”