Charter Commission Minutes

September 27, 2005

The Hopkins Charter Commission met on September 27. Present were Commission members Dorothy Boen, David Day, Fran Hesch, Karen Jensen, Roger Johnson, Steve Lewis, Robert Miller, and Emily Wallace-Jackson.

  1. Call To Order
    The meeting was brought to order at 6:35 pm.
  2. Approval of Minutes for April 26, 2005
    Commissioner Day moved and Commissioner Boen seconded the motion to approve the minutes of the April 26, 2005 meeting. The motion was approved unanimously.
  3. Communications
    None
  4. Old Business
    1. Amendment to Section 12.05 – Sale of Property
      The Commission voted at the April 26 meeting to amend the Charter by deleting the words: "which the Council may by resolution designate." Mr. Genellie said that this was an unnecessary procedure. About the only time the Council ever approved expenditures by resolution was the approval of the annual budget. The Council would retain the ability to apply the proceeds from the sale of property to any public purpose. However, if the proceeds were put into one of the City funds, it would be commingled with existing assets.
          Commissioner Robert Miller initiated a discussion regarding the manner in which property is sold. How is the value determined of property? The current language merely states that the property cannot be sold for less than the assessed value. The assessed value may be much less than the current market value. Should the Commission require an appraisal for the sale of property? What do you do in the case of redevelopment property?
          Commissioner Jensen moved and Commissioner Lewis seconded the motion to refer Section 12.05 to the City Attorney for review of the questions raised by the Commission. The motion passed unanimously.
    2. Ranked Ballot Voting
      Commissioner Hesch gave a summary of the Alternative Voting Task Force's work during the last year. The task force considered the broad issue of changing the voting system on the entire ballot including the election for school board. The voting system used by School districts, however, is controlled by the legislature.
          Commissioner Hesch gave a presentation on voting systems. The proposed change would be designed to ensure that the winners have a majority of the votes.
          The Task Force is recommending Instant Runoff Voting (IRV). There would be a ranked ballot for Mayor and Council using two passes of IRV for the two council seats. The Task Force recommended this alternative be adopted into the Charter, leaving the actual ballot implementation to the time when it becomes technically and financially feasible.
          Commissioner Hesch said that the costs of implementing this voting system were not known at this time. There was an estimate that if Hopkins were to pay for a programming change by itself, the cost could exceed $200,000.
          Tony Solgard said that the voting equipment will be modified in the future to allow for IRV.
          Commissioner Day asked how this could work for the School Board when the District covers several cities. The Task Force looked at this but determined that state legislation would be needed for the school board and statutory cities.
          Commissioner Jensen said that most of the people that she talked to thought it was a good idea.
          Commissioner Jensen moved to authorize Jim Genellie and City Attorney to draft a resolution and Charter amendment, implementing IRV for the Mayor and Council using two passes of IRV for the two council seats, to present to the next meeting of the Commission. Commissioner Wallace-Jackson seconded the motion.
          Commissioner Wallace-Jackson asked how the two passes would work for the two Council members. This led to an extensive discussion of how the voting would take place.
          Commissioner Robert Miller asked whether there would be an improvement in governance through this voting method.     Commissioner Hesch said that the result of IRV is that winning candidates have a majority of the votes.
          Commissioner Jensen said that this voting system would excite people and improve turnout.
          Commissioner Wallace-Jackson said that IRV would allow people to vote for who they really wanted even if they were a minority candidate.
          Commissioner Robert Miller asked about the representation on the Task Force. Commissioner Hesch said the Task Force tried to get as many representatives of different views as possible but that proponents were more willing to serve.
          Commissioner Jensen said she was especially persuaded by the League of Women Voters.
          Commissioner Hesch called for a vote on the motion. Commissioners Boen, Hesch, Jensen, Johnson, Lewis, and Wallace-Jackson voted aye. Commissioners Miller and Day voted nay. The motion passed.
  5. New Business
    1. The Commission set its next meeting for Tuesday, November 15 at 6:30 pm.
  6. Adjournment
    Commissioner Day moved and Commissioner Johnson seconded the motion to adjourn. The meeting adjourned by unanimous consent.