October 22, 2014

Omer city charter revisions halted

7/10/13

OMER — An effort to modernize and amend the Omer city charter has hit a wall and will not be pursued further following the council’s July 10 meeting.

Any changes to the city charter would need to go up for a public vote on a ballot. Clerk Sue Oliver said the city attorney reported that every change would need to have its own spot on the ballot, with the city looking at around 40 such amendments for the charter.

Oliver told the Independent in June the revisions were to modernize the city charter on a variety of aspects, such as zoning, as it has not been tweaked since the 1970s.

Councilman Robin Berry said the update came from former Councilwoman Jill Eyre, who is still keeping track of the charter revisions. Her news was not good for moving forward.

“Jill called him (the attorney) today,” Berry said. “He said we could consolidate the changes — he could do that and get it down to about eight different changes for city of Omer — but even after doing that, he has to send it to the attorney general of Michigan to get it approved before you can put it on the ballot.”

Berry said the city could still move forward and have the city attorney consolidate the changes, but Attorney General Bill Schuette still has the authority to reject them as ballot proposals. Schuette must approve any charter changes under the Michigan fourth-class city act. Since having the city attorney consolidate the changes would cost money, the council was wary of spending the cash on something they may not even see the ballot.

“If we get it consolidated down, and the attorney general doesn’t approve it, we’ll still be at a dead end and will have spent money on it,” Councilman Larry Daly said. “It’s a shame we spent almost eight months on that thing.”

A 1980 ruling by former Attorney General Frank Kelley ended the concept of the fourth-class city in Michigan, reclassifying them as “home rule” cities. The state’s fourth-class city act now functions solely as the charter for all cities that have not put together their own home rule charter.

Councilwoman Ruth Ann Cook said the positive outcome of their work is that now the council members have a much better understanding of the city charter, and Mayor Alice Sproule said since the council had done the work on their own time, at least the city’s expenses were minimized on the effort.

Copyright © 2014, Sunrise Publishing. Powered by: Creative Circle Advertising Solutions, Inc.