Government Position: City

A Consensus Statement on the Council-Manager form of government as originally adopted in 1951, and revised in 1971, 1973, 1991, 1993, and 2000. In 2001 an update was passed at the Annual Meeting. A study committee examined this position, had several interviews with officials and former officials and academics, and decided there was no need for change. The Board agreed and the committee was disbanded in 2002. At the Annual Meeting in 2002 members present agreed.

Position is as follows:

1. The City Council

a. The City Council should be elected from equally-formed districts. All powers of the city and the determination of all matters of policy should be vested in the Council. In addition, the Council should be given whatever specific powers it will need to exercise the maximum authority over municipal functions in accordance with state legislation.

b. The Council should appoint the city manager for an indefinite term and should have the power to remove him/her by majority vote.

c. the mayor should preside over the council meetings and should be the ceremonial head of the city. The mayor should have no administrative duties or powers.

d. There should be administrative assistants for the mayor and Council. They should be appointed directly by the Council and outside of civil service.

e. Support of amendments to the Charter to increase Council members’ compensation as approved by the voters. (Rev. 1993) (Rev. 2017)

f. Support of Charter amendments to fill Council vacancies, including the mayor, of more than 120 days to be filled by a special election, Council vacancies of 120 days or less to be filled by a successor who possesses all qualifications of the office with a vote of the majority of remaining Council members. (Rev. 2017)

2. City Auditor

We support the City Auditor conducting independent audits of all city-related activities

3. The City Manager

a. The city manager should be chosen solely on the basis of training and experience in city management. At the time of the appointment he/she need not be a resident of the city or state, but during tenure, he/she should live in the city.

b. The person should be the non-political, professional head of the administrative branch of the city government.

c. The person should be responsible to the Council for the proper administration of all affairs of the city.

d. The manager should have the power of appointment and removal over all department heads and through them, over all city employees subject to civil service provisions.

4. Civil Service

a. Appointments and promotions in the administrative service of the city should be made according to merit and fitness to be determined as far as practical by experience, training and the results of competitive examinations.

b. There should be a human resources department administered by a human resources director with training and experience in administration. (Rev. 2017)

c. No person in the classified service of the city, or seeking such employment, should be in any way favored or discriminated against because of political or religious opinions or affiliations, race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, veteran status, age or disability. (Rev. 2017)

5. The Planning Commission

a. We support a planning commission appointed by the City Council as an advisory body. This commission should have power to make amendments to the master plan and the unified development code. It should plan to provide for the maximum convenience, health and beauty for the city, at the lowest cost, and with the best use of the city’s physical and social resources. The council should provide by ordinance for the adoption, modification or carrying out of the commission’s plans. (Rev. 2017)

b. We support a director of planning who should have special training and experience in the field of city planning. He/she should be appointed by the city manager with the approval of the planning commission. He/she should be the regular technical advisor of the commission. (Rev. 2017)

c. We support the Zoning Commission, which is responsible for conducting public hearings related to zoning changes. The Commission recommends to City Council changes to be enforced in those zoning districts. (Rev. 2017)

6. Public Utilities

a. Franchises, their amendments and renewal, should hereafter be by ordinance and should designate an agent to assemble and maintain data essential to determining the cost of service of each utility for the purpose of fixing the lowest possible rates that would assure an equitable return to the utility.

b. The city should have power to require efficient, economical management, as well as a kind of quality of service to fulfill the public interest. The city should have power to purchase, own or operate any public utility.

c. A municipally-owned utility should not be operated as a general revenue producing agency for the city, but all annual profits above depreciation accruals, bond amortization, bond interest and the reasonable accumulation of surplus should be applied to the reduction of rates and the improvement of service. However, it may pay to the city such property and other taxes as are normally placed on private business enterprises.

7. Budget Planning & Control

a. All of the city’s revenues and expenditures should be included in a budget to be submitted to the city council by the city manager at least thirty-five days before the beginning of the fiscal year. There should be two public hearings held before the adoption of the budget. The council should have power to modify the budget so long as proposed expenditures are balanced by anticipated revenues.

b. The charter should require that the budget show estimated revenues itemized by source and proposed expenditures itemized by purpose. For both expenditures and revenues there should appear corresponding items, estimated and actual, for preceding years. The budget should make provision for charges, including interest, judgments and taxes uncollected in previous years, which should take priority over appropriation operating expenses. The budget should be accompanied by a message from the city manager explaining it and the financial policies it embodies. The budget, the budget message, and the council hearings on the budget should all be public since the adopted budget is the single appropriation measure for the city and its requirements govern the amount of property tax levy.

c. The city manager should be responsible for administering the budget, in both collections and expenditures. The city manager should see that departments keep within their appropriations and that allotments for various work program are used economically.

8. Capital Improvements

The Capital Improvements Program should have on-going point-by-point review. There should be provision for periodic accounting to the public for bond monies after bonds are sold. Programs funded by federal money should be determined by city-wide needs.

9. Department of Law

The City Attorney position is recommended by the city manager and confirmed by the City Council. The City Attorney should serve as chief legal advisor for the city of San Antonio including City Council, City Manager, all city departments, officers, and employees. The City Attorney should represent the city in all legal proceedings. (Rev. 2007) (Rev. 2017)

10.  Recall Provisions

The charter should make it possible to remove any city council member by recall. Ten percent is most often suggested as the number of qualified voters whose signatures should be required on a petition in order to hold a recall election.

11. Human Relations Commission

The LWVSAA supports the establishment of a Human Relations Commission by city ordinance. The commission could be part of the Department of Human Resources.

12. Ombudsman

The city charter should not provide for an ombudsman. The city council and city administration should provide adequate, well-publicized means for investigating and resolving citizen grievances.

106 Auditorium Circle #120
San Antonio, TX 78205 
(210) 657-2206
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