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A city charter is like a constitution that outlines the principles, structures and process of government. It is a legal document that defines an organization, as well as its powers, functions and essential procedures. Like constitutions at federal and state governments, the City of Beaverton has a charter that describes the roles and powers of the Mayor, City Council and city officers, as well as the basic framework for how the city conducts business.
Beaverton’s existing charter was approved by voters in November 1980. It was amended once in 2008 when voters changed a section relating to urban renewal.
It gets changed by Beaverton voters. The City Council can initiate discussions and pass a resolution to refer a proposed charter to Beaverton voters for consideration, but Beaverton voters must approve the changes at an election.
Yes, the Beaverton City Council referred the proposed city charter to Beaverton voters for the May 19, 2020, primary election.
If approved, the proposed charter would become operative on January 1, 2021.
Nothing. The city would continue to operate as it does under the existing charter, none of the charter changes described would occur, and there would be no fiscal impact.
The financial impact under the proposed charter would be approximately $42,000, if the measure passes, because it would replace or modify existing positions included in the city’s current charter. For example, the cost of adding a new city Councilor position would be available from a redistribution of the Mayor’s existing salary to a new councilor position. The cost would paid by the City’s general fund through an existing revenue stream.
Cities periodically review their charters to update the charter in various ways. The Beaverton City Council began a series of discussions in fall 2019 regarding potential changes to the city’s existing charter. Discussions and public hearings on the topic occurred during public meetings.
If the measure passes, the proposed city charter would outline details related to the city’s form of government, term limits and language preferences. These would include:
Most Oregon cities are one of four basic forms of government. These include:
Yes, the City Council discussed the proposed Charter during public meetings. Between September 2019 and February 2020, there were nine work sessions, as well as two public hearings on this topic.
The City of Beaverton will provide information on the proposed charter to the community. A dedicated web page at www.BeavertonOregon.gov/Charter will be a source of information and will list upcoming activities.
The City Manager is the administrative head of the City of Beaverton, responsible to the City Council for the proper administration of all city business. The person is the principal policy advisor to the Mayor and City Council. The City Manager’s duties are outlined in Section 4.1 of the City Charter of 2021 and also reflected in the adopted job description. The City Manager appoints and removes all city employees except for positions such as the City Attorney and the Municipal Court judges.
The job description for Beaverton’s City Manager is similar to the City Manager job descriptions used by other cities, although Beaverton’s job description specifically requires the City Manager:
The City Manager is not a member of the City Council and does not vote. The person is responsible for assembling and preparing the agendas for council meetings as well as following up on all decisions and direction coming from the council. The manager must attend all council meetings unless excused by the Mayor.
Section 3.3 of the 2021 City Charter describes the Mayor’s new job duties. The Mayor attends and chairs all meetings of the City Council, signs the ordinances, resolutions, proclamations and other records of the decisions of the council, and is the head of city government for ceremonial, political and emergency management purposes. The Mayor must work with the rest of the council and the City Manager to coordinate the city’s relations with federal, state and local governments and to develop the city’s short and long-term goals. The Mayor also nominates and appoints members of the city’s boards, commissions and committees, subject to the approval of the City Council.
The city’s new charter becomes operative on January 1, 2021. The recruitment and hiring of the person to fill the position of City Manager therefore has to be fully completed before then. The current City Council is a five-member council; the new charter provides for a seven-member council. The new seven-member council will have four new voting members. Under these circumstances, the current five-member City Council deemed it best if it recruited and hired an Interim City Manager able to start work on January 1, 2021, allowing the new seven-member city council the opportunity to recruit and hire the city’s regular City Manager in 2021.
The city has obtained the services of an outside firm experienced in the recruitment and hiring of local government executives to assist city staff and to advise the City Council. Formal advertising will begin after January 2021 with time for engaging with members of the city staff, union personnel, members of boards and commissions, community partners and residents. A specific timeline will be announced. While interviews will be held in executive sessions closed to the public, the final hiring decision will be conducted as part of a public meeting. Members of the public may offer advice regarding the qualifications and expectations for the future City Manager at any upcoming City Council meeting. The City Council adopted Resolution No. 4623 that describes the hiring process for positions that are hired directly by the City Council.
The Interim City Manager was selected by the five-member City Council. The regular City Manager will be selected by the new seven-member City Council. In both instances, the selection is decided by majority vote.
The city expected and received applications from a group of qualified and experienced local government professionals interested in serving in the role. They may be retired managers or those who are seeking a temporary position for personal reasons. The recruitment pool is not limited to people living in Beaverton or in Oregon. The person appointed as Interim City Manager is a veteran manager.
Most of the city’s department heads will report directly to the City Manager. These currently include the Police Chief, Finance Director, Community Development Director, Public Works Director, Library Director, Human Resources Director, and Community Services and Engagement Director. The exceptions are the City Attorney, the judges of the Municipal Court, the city’s financial auditing firm, and the administrative staff positions serving the Mayor and councilors. These positions report to the City Council. There is nothing inherent in this transition to the City Charter of 2021 that requires a City Manager to terminate all of the current department heads.
The Mayor, councilors and staff are discussing some changes in operational responsibilities that may occur in January to assist the smooth transition to a City Manager. This will be a process that will continue to evolve after the Interim manager starts and thereafter. Staff will likely retain their current positions and their day-to-day responsibilities should change little. Stay-tuned!
A seven-member City Council will operate similarly to how the current city council operates, but there will be some differences. For example, the Mayor will still serve as chair of the council meetings, but the mayor will vote on each matter coming before the council and will have no veto power. Likewise, a quorum of the council will still be required to conduct official business, but now the minimum number of members required to achieve a quorum will be four, not three. The City Council periodically reviews their Council Rules and there could be some revisions considered with the changes required by the new charter.
The advertised salary range for the City Manager is $180,000-$241,219 annually. They will enjoy benefits similar to department heads of the city but details regarding the compensation package will be negotiated with the successful candidate. This could include use of a car, however that is not a regular benefit provided to all department heads. The charter allows the appointment to be for a fixed term or open-ended, as negotiated with the city council. City Managers serve at the pleasure of the City Council and their contract usually contains severance benefits.
Property taxes or other fees should not increase directly due to the hiring of a City Manager. Most often, communities operating under the Council-Manager form of government are known for their efficient operation and financial discipline. The salary and benefits of this position and those of all other employees appear in the annual budget of the city.
Most cities larger than 2500 residents, and many of the larger counties and special districts, have a professional executive manager serving as their administrative head.
Beaverton had a council-manager form of government from 1962 to 1976, when voters approved a ballot measure eliminating the appointed city manager position and established instead an elected full-time Mayor. A special election was held in March 1977 to fill the newly-established full-time Mayor position.
In the Council-Manager form of government provided for in the 2021 Charter, the Mayor is one member of the seven-member City Council. The Mayor has no special authority over the City Manager. The City Manager is expected to listen to all seven elected council members and seek their direction, as a group, on both routine as well as controversial items. For most decisions that must be voted on and are not unanimously decided, a majority of the council members present and vote to decide the matter.
As compared to the current City Charter, the new charter contains no specific requirement for a chief of staff or similar assistant to either the Mayor or the City Manager. Staffing for the direct support of the City Manager is “to be determined.” Some preliminary appointments of staff to support the manager and/or the mayor will be made by January and reevaluated based on needs of the organization and the experience of staff and elected officials.
The City Council developed and recommended the new City Charter over numerous meetings during 2019. The most often cited reason by members of the City Council for favoring a new charter with a change to the Council-Manager form of government is to have the administrative head of the government more responsive to the policy directions and decisions of the City Council rather than relying upon an independently elected Mayor who also served as the executive.
One of the main features is the imposition of term limits on the Mayor and members of the City Council. No one may serve more than three consecutive four-year terms. See Section 5.7 of the 2021 City Charter. The new charter eliminated a fixed dollar amount of “floating debt” of the City that grew obsolete due to inflation. Now the city’s debt limitation is governed by state law. The new charter is gender inclusive and eliminates the use of “he,” “him,” and “his” as pronouns for nouns embracing all genders.
The increase in the members of the City Council from five to seven results in an increase in the number of BURA board members. The BURA Board is currently comprised of nine members: the Mayor, five city councilors, and three independent members from the Beaverton community.
Under the new Charter, the BURA Board will automatically expand to 10 members: the Mayor, six city councilors, and three independent members from the Beaverton community. Because boards typically have an odd number of members to help avoid tie votes, the BURA Board and City Council have decided to add a fourth independent member to the BURA Board, for a total of 11 board members. Also, with the expansion of the BURA Board to 11 members, the BURA Budget Committee will now consist of 22 members (the 11-member BURA Board and 11 Beaverton residents who are not BURA Board members).
Staff is proceeding with a schedule leading toward the recruitment, selection and approval of people to the City’s boards, commissions and committees in December 2020, unless advised otherwise. Any appointments for additional positions will be handled after January 1, 2021.
The Mayor will continue to sign these agreements. The new Charter provides that the Mayor is to sign “writings and records of council decisions.” Intergovernmental agreements (IGAs) are agreements between two or more government entities, and the City Council generally votes to approve the city entering into the agreements. Once the City Council decides to approve the city entering into an IGA, the IGA becomes a writing of a council decision, and therefore the Mayor must sign the agreement.
The City Manager determines when to close city buildings in the event of an emergency or inclement weather.
On December 1, 2020, the City Council enacted Ordinance No. 4794 , which amends the Beaverton Code to conform to the new Charter. The code amendments become operative on January 1, 2021, along with the new Charter. The online version of the Beaverton Code will be updated in early 2021 to reflect all of the amendments.
No, department heads are not granted any new authorities under the new Charter. Probably the most significant change under the new Charter for department heads is that those who currently report to the Mayor will now report to the City Manager.
The new Charter, like the city’s current Charter, does not address how staff has access to the city’s chief executive officer (the Mayor under the current Charter and the City Manager under the new Charter). Instead, both charters leave it to the chief executive to decide how best to organize the day-to-day operations of the city.
The new Charter provides that the City Manager must permit conversations between individual council members and staff. These can include conversations about council member suggestions, opinions and the exchange of information. The City Council and City Manager will likely develop a protocol for implementing this provision of the new Charter.
While council access to staff is guaranteed by the new Charter, the new Charter also provides that none of the individual council members may direct or order any employee or official of the city (other than those few members of staff who are directly supervised by council members).