Senate OKs changes to city charter

Published 10:21 am Wednesday, January 25, 2012


RICHMOND—The state Senate on Monday approved a bill that would require Franklin City Council members to resign to run for mayor, and the House is considering similar legislation.

Sponsored by Sen. Harry Blevins, R-Chesapeake, the bill unanimously approved by the Senate Local Government Committee last week would make several amendments to the Franklin City Charter.

One amendment states that if a Franklin City Council member wants to run for mayor, he must resign no fewer than 10 days after filing his petition for mayor. The resignation would be effective on June 30 of the election year.

The bill also spells out rules for recalling Franklin City Council members or the mayor. Recall supporters would have to gather signatures from at least 15 percent of the voters in the council member’s ward or, in the mayor’s case, 15 percent of the voters citywide.

Moreover, the bill says a council member shall forfeit office if he fails to pay all real estate taxes or personal property taxes by Jan. 15 each year.

Two bills nearly identical are pending in the House. They were introduced by Delegate Roslyn Tyler, D-Jarratt, and sponsored by Delegate Rick Morris, R-Carrollton.

“We’re basically just upgrading the charter, which has not been changed in some time, to reflect and conform to the charters of some other cities,” Tyler said.

She said the legislation may be modified.

“Delegate Morris and I are working on the final draft of the amendments,” Tyler said.

Under the House and Senate legislation as currently written, the charter amendments would take effect July 1.

Franklin City Councilman Benny Burgess said during Monday night’s council meeting that they had the option to pass legislation that would have made the amendments active as soon as Gov. Bob McDonnell signed them into law, but the council didn’t do that.

Franklin’s charter has been amended 10 to 12 times since it was enacted in 1962. Last year, the charter was amended to change the length of terms of members of the Franklin School Board.