The Sherman City Council is considering asking local voters to decide on making as many as 10 amendments to the city charter during the Nov. 7 municipal election.
The council recently formed a Charter Review Commission that suggested the amendments to be considered for the upcoming election. City Attorney Brandon Shelby said the commission’s suggestions will be reviewed by the full council during its Aug. 7 meeting, and it will decide which ones to add to the ballot.
“It’s basically just going in and cleaning up places in the charter where conflicts have arisen with state law or we do things differently than we have before,” Shelby said.
Among the possible amendments to be discussed by the council are proposals to do away with occupation taxes, decreasing the number of members on the Planning & Zoning Commission and changes to the charter’s language regarding the length of council member terms and the appointment of alternate municipal judges, among other things. Shelby said the city’s finance department also identified a couple of instances of charter language that no longer coincides with state law, so those could be added to the ballot for voters to decide on.
“One of the things I proposed is there’s a nepotism provision that says if you’re on the council, none of your family can work for the city,” Shelby said. “I think that’s a little bit silly when it comes to part-time and seasonal jobs. I know in the past, council members’ kids have worked at the pool, and I don’t really see anything wrong with that.”
The Charter Review Commission was made up of Mayor David Plyler, Deputy Mayor Jason Sofey and council member Kevin Couch. Shelby said the commission recently met with city staff and reviewed suggestions for amendments the council can consider.
“I am putting together the report to bring to council so they can decide which amendments to propose for the voters in the fall election,” Shelby said.
For the proposed removal of the language for occupation taxes from the charter, the city attorney explained the council has the right to assess and collect taxes on occupation taxes, licenses and franchise taxes on trades, professions and occupations and any business transaction carried out in the city.
“I don’t know that we even collect that much of that, it’s basically just a fee to perform certain occupations in the city, but they’re proposing to get rid of that,” Shelby said.
The talk of reducing the number of members on the P&Z commission to seven from nine comes from the fact that many area municipalities of similar size to Sherman have just seven members and that it would reduce the number of members needed to get a quorum.
“It’s easier to get the quorum if you only have seven and there was some attendance problems on P&Z last year,” Shelby said. “So that may have something to do with that.”
Shelby said the charter also still has some language from before the council members had three-year terms, so he said it currently makes it “kind of confusing” when people are looking to run for a seat on the council. He also explained the city charter doesn’t currently state how alternate municipal judges should be appointed.
“So we’re just adding that language to make it so they’re appointed the same way as the regular judge,” Shelby said. “That’s how we’ve been appointing them, but it didn’t say to in the charter, so we’re adding that to cover what we already do.”
One thing that won’t be considered for an amendment to appear on the ballot is an increase to council pay. City staff said council members currently get paid $50 per meeting and Shelby said the possibility of raising that sum was brought up by city staff during the Charter Review Commission meeting, but it was quickly dismissed by the council members.