Group wants no changes to Sioux Falls governing system
Charter Revision Commission wraps months-long work with no formal recommendations to modify Sioux Falls governing system
Sioux Falls voters will not be asked to consider changes to the city charter when they head to the polls this spring.
The Sioux Falls Charter Revision Commission Monday concluded its months-long process of considering potential amendments to the city’s governing system, contemplating a litany of ideas floated by members of the public, at least one city councilor, and charter revision commissioners alike.
However, after a series of meetings that began in August, the five-member commission could not find consensus around any of seven proposals it had considered, ranging from how compensation for public officials is set to repealing term limits and shifting from a mayor-managed city to a system that uses a city manager to handle daily government operations.
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“It appears we have nothing to report to the City Council,” Charter Revision Commission chairwoman Anne Hajek told her fellow commissioners as they wrapped up their work without proposing any charter amendments to be placed on the spring ballot.
The commission had also considered a proposal brought by Sioux Falls resident Joe Kirby, an author of the original charter adopted by voters in the early 1990s who now wants to see the mayor removed from the city council. Instead, a ninth city council spot would be created.
Kirby contended the proposed change would simplify the mayor’s job, create a more effective city council, and help insulate city government from “rushed decisions and ill-conceived projects,” specifically citing the city’s downtown parking ramp project, setbacks with the City Center administration building, and a bridge reconstruction contract that was twice the previously anticipated cost.
But the proposal didn’t gain traction with commissioners, who unanimously rejected the idea at a November meeting. A proposal by Commissioner Carl Zylstra to repeal inflationary pay adjustments for city councilors and the mayor now found in the city charter, and instead allow the City Council to establish compensation levels for those offices, also fell short of making the ballot.
Despite the lack of recommended charter amendments coming from the commission, Sioux Falls citizens who maintain the need for the charter revisions commissioners rejected — or others — still have options, Zylstra noted during a December meeting.
“If you think this particular body is just being obdurate and not listening or hearing well, you have the opportunity to go to the City Council and try to get them to put it on (the ballot) also,” he said, referring to city councilors' ability to place questions on the municipal ballot.
Commissioners also noted citizens can refer questions to the ballot through a petition process.
“We’re not the guardians of the gate. We are one gateway of three,” Zylstra said.
Despite no recommendations coming from the Charter Revision Commission, Sioux Falls voters will still have some decisions to make during the April 9 election. Being held jointly between the city and the Sioux Falls School District, as many as four city council races and two school board races could be contested.