Vote to abandon Afton charter plan defeatedThe campaign to write a charter for Afton will live to fight another day after a vote to abandon it failed. The Afton Charter Commission met Thursday, March 27 to discuss the question of whether a charter was appropriate for the city.
By: Amber Kispert-Smith, Woodbury Bulletin
The campaign to write a charter for Afton will live to fight another day after a vote to abandon it failed.
The Afton Charter Commission met Thursday, March 27 to discuss the question of whether a charter was appropriate for the city.
After some heated debate, commission secretary Pat Snyder proposed the motion, “It’s not necessary or desirable for the city of Afton to draft a home rule charter.”
She was supported by only two of the 12 commission members present, however, and so the group will meet back at St. Peter Lutheran Church on Neal Avenue on April 24 to move forward with the process of writing a city charter.
Ultimately, the commission hopes to present a charter to the city’s residents for a vote.
If a majority were in favor of the charter, Afton would change its status from being a statutory city to becoming a charter city, with the city council having to abide by language set down in the charter, rather than being guided by Minnesota Statutes chapter 412, which governs statutory cities.
The commission, which held its first meeting in January, discussed areas of concern at the March 27 meeting.
Many of the fears expressed revolved around the time and cost involved with a charter, and the potential for abuse of one of the main tenets of a charter, that of the ability of residents to petition for a referendum.
“I have a few reservations,” Snyder told the meeting, before she proposed to abandon the idea of a charter.
“I’m not sure that I’m comfortable with the idea that a group of people… can come up with a proposed ordinance change or proposed ordinance and get a petition with X-number of signatures and bring it forward to the point that we have to call for a special election.
“I guess I think it’s fiscally irresponsible and I’m concerned there’s potential for abuse with that.”
Discussion also centered around the subject of whether the wording of the charter could be such that abuse of the system was limited, or whether the residents themselves would achieve that by self-policing.
“I just hate to make a decision based on the fact that there might be a few nutcases,” said Kate McGinn, the commission chairwoman.
“Residents might think twice about signing a petition that’s ludicrous as it’s going to cost them money [in taxes as it’s funded by the city].
“I think if the city council realizes that it is doing something that maybe a lot of people don’t like, or that maybe a petition will come up, maybe they might consider doing a survey ahead of time.
“I see it as a check and balance, and I really like that.”
For more information on the charter commission and its meetings, log on to aftoncharter.org.