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Change in council/mayor election
heads to voters in November
(07/28/16)

by Dolores Hamilton
A proposed amendment of the city’s Home Rule Charter relating to the vote required for the election of candidates running for mayor and city council will be included on the ballot in November for qualified voters in Iowa Park.
At their meeting Monday night, the city council passed an ordinance calling for the proposal to be placed on the ballot for the Nov. 8 elections.
As the charter is now written, if more than two candidates are running for the office of mayor or city council, the winner must receive at least 51 percent of the vote. This rarely happens and a run-off election is required between the two candidates receiving the most votes.
The proposal on the ballot will read as follows: “Shall Section 1.04 of the city’s charter be amended to replace the present language of all 3 sections with the following: A candidate running for mayor or city council shall be elected to the office for which the candidate is running if the candidate receives more votes than any other candidate running for that office.”
City Manager Jerry Flemming said a change from majority vote to plurality would reduce the incidence of run-off elections. “It’s not an issue at all if it’s only two running for a single office, however if there’s three or more candidates it’s almost impossible for one to get 51 percent of the vote,” Flemming said.
Flemming said run-off elections often have low voter turnout and will generally favor the same candidate who received the most votes in the general election.
According to City Secretary Janice Newman, run-off elections cost a minimum of $1,000 for equipment, plus salaries for judges and overtime for city staff working the election.
In a public hearing on the residential structure at 107 Home Lane that had been damaged by fire and stood empty for some time, the council was told that the property had sold and the new owners were at the meeting. They had taken out a building permit to repair the roof, mowed the yard, and had begun clean-up work on the property. Council voted to give the new owners 60 days to bring the structure into compliance with the city’s Code of Ordinances.
In a public hearing on the 1997 Buick located on public right-of-way adjacent to 1006 Lincoln Dr., council voted to abate the vehicle.
A public hearing was scheduled for a 1997 Mazda at 906 Van Horn, but was cancelled when the council learned the car had been moved.
Council authorized the submission of a Texas Criminal Justice Division grant application for funds for the Iowa Park Police Department’s Body-Worn Camera Program. This is a 25 percent matching grant. The cost of the nine body cameras for police officers is $11,013, and if the grant is approved, the city’s match would be approximately $2,753.25.
A resolution was approved to amend the Utility Fund operating budgets to reflect the adjustment of expenditures necessary to maintain governmental services provided by the city.
The city manager was authorized to purchase two submersible sewage pumps from Triple “D” Pump Company for $14,500.
During the city manager’s report, Flemming discussed changes to the city’s employee pay scale due to an unfunded federal mandate that becomes effective Dec. 1. Council voted to approved the revised pay scale.
In his report on the city’s financial condition Flemming said the fund balance is strong and revenue is significantly over expenditures. He discussed the city’s vehicles and heavy equipment and proposed a five-year acquisition plan.
No action was taken by the council after meeting in closed session to discuss alternatives for office space for the Economic Development office.