Changes to city charter to be delayed

Published 11:43 am Wednesday, January 2, 2013



FRANKLIN—Last year’s failed attempt to change the Franklin City charter, which would’ve allowed voters to unseat a council member or the mayor, is not expected to be revisited when the state legislature reconvenes on Jan. 9.

Mayor Raystine Johnson-Ashburn said Monday any changes to the charter, which are the rules for governing the city, would not go to state legislators until 2014.

Johnson-Ashburn said council has discussed the matter once since she began serving as mayor on July 1.

“I am getting quite a few requests on the subject from a lot of citizens,” she said. “I will be talking to my colleagues as we move forward on this matter.”

After much debate last year, a House subcommittee voted to continue the bill for changing the charter until at least this year.

Johnson believes the most important change is allowing voters to unseat a council member or mayor.

“The biggest thing is we as a council want to show is solidarity as we move forward going back to the General Assembly in Richmond,” she said.

Other changes proposed included:

• Prohibiting council members from interfering with the city manager’s hiring or decisions involving city employees.

• Providing guidelines that would force a council member to resign, such as failing to pay real estate taxes.

• Prohibiting a council member to run for mayor.

Franklin City Manager Randy Martin said the changes to the charter can still be discussed.

“They just have not been brought up in months,” Martin said.

State lawmakers could revisit last year’s bill.

“I feel that to be unlikely,” he said.

Franklin Vice-Mayor Barry Cheatham, who would like to revisit the changes, does not expect the issue to be revisited this year in Richmond.

“City Council would prefer to review each change to see if the changes that were made last time have not changed the intent,” Cheatham said.

He continued, “I think every one of those changes are good for the citizens of Franklin, I have yet to talk to anyone not wanting these changes.”

Councilman Greg McLemore, who objected to last year’s proposed changes, had no comment.