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Facing December 4 Election Ballot Deadline, Council Committee Ponders City Charter Changes

Published on Thursday, November 30, 2023 | 5:43 am

The Pasadena City Legislative Policy Committee discussed Wednesday two ballot measures that propose amendments to the City Charter. 

In September and November meetings, the City Council considered potential technical charter amendments to be on the March 5 ballot. At the November 6 meeting, the staff was directed to return with ballot questions to make clerical corrections, update the language regarding power fund transfer to the general fund, amend procurement language to require City Council to establish limits and to amend procurement language to permit alternative procurement methods. 

Notable among the list of proposed amendments brought to the Legislative Policy Committee is the proposal to amend Section 1001 of the charter which establishes that the City Council shall approve all contracts of $75,000 or more. 

City staff is proposing to remove the $75,000 limit to state that: “all contracts shall be approved by the City Council except contracts under a limit established by ordinance.”

Staff is also proposing to amend Section 1002 to amend bidding requirements. 

The staff is proposing to add a new bullet at the end of the section, which would read that “contracts utilizing alternative project delivery methods, as approved by the City Council, including, but not limited to, design-build and construction manager at risk.”

“It would open the opportunity to use new procurement methods but the Council would still need to approve those procurement methods,” explained Matthew Hawkesworth, Director of Finance. 

The City Council has ultimate authority to decide what to put in the ballot and how many ballot questions to propose to the voters. 

Staff is proposing two ballot questions to the voters. The proposed first ballot question is: “shall amendments to the Pasadena City Charter to 1. make clerical corrections relating to outdated language and citations contained in various sections of the City Charter; and 2. update the accounting method related to the existing voter-approved transfer from the Power Fund to the General Fund, without raising taxes, to maintain 911 response, fire, paramedic, public health, senior and homeless services, street repairs, and for general government use, be adopted?”

The proposed second ballot question asks voters: “Shall amendments to Article X of the Pasadena City Charter to: 1. Require the City Council to set limits for contracts and settlement/claim approvals by ordinance; and 2. include additional contract selection methods, requiring City Council approval, to deliver significant capital improvements and infrastructure projects efficiently, timely and within budget for essential municipal services such as police, fire, streets, bridges, and parks, resulting in less cost to taxpayers, be adopted.” 

“These are very technical. Communicating them to the voters is going to be a challenge,” Councilmember Jess Rivas said on the proposed questions. 

Councilmembers Rivas and Jason Lyon said they wanted the question regarding the power fund revised so the public will be able to understand it.

Lyon’s suggestion is to revise the question to: “Update the accounting of the existing voter approved transfer from the power fund to the general fund to be consistent with generally approved accounting principles, be adopted.”

City Clerk Mark Jomsky said the deadline for placing the proposed amendments on the March ballot would be next week, December 8. 

“We have until December 4 to put this on the ballot and then get the resolutions to the county,” said Jomsky.

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