North Texas Daily

Denton City Council generating new amendments after recent election

Denton City Council generating new amendments after recent election

Denton residents voted on Tuesday November 7, 2017 on amendments made to the Texas Constitution. Residents were also asked to vote on charter amendments.

Denton City Council generating new amendments after recent election
November 28
19:59 2017

After the city of Denton and Denton County experienced some of its lowest voting numbers, the constitutional election is generating new amendments to the city charter.

Out of 99,054 registered voters in the city, only 4,826 cast their vote to amend current laws and add new ones to the city charter.

Next, the city of Denton will be adopting an ethics ordinance, gain a full-time auditor, require city council members be paid and require city council candidates to live in their district for a minimum of one year prior to running.

The one amendment that did not pass was to raise the percentage of petitioners required to trigger a recall election, and won’t be amended any further.

Done on a case-by-case basis, these amendments will all take time to work on and complete but are already being discussed by the city council.

“Obviously, some amendments will take additional action,” Mayor Chris Watts said. “For example, we have to craft an ordinance, and we need to formulate how we go about doing that.”

Now that four out of the five amendments were passed, city council members will begin discussing what further actions to take at city council meetings beginning in December.

Some of the amendments passed are meant to clarify the current ones, such as adding the ethics ordinance.

The ethics ordinance will require the most work and time, so the council can put more citizen input into the ordinance.

“The state bar for ethics is absurdly low,” Denton resident Deborah Armintor said. “It is up to the cities to raise that bar and have low conflicts of interest, like instances on our city council.”

An ethics ordinance has always been a topic of discussion with residents and is now going to be added to the charter with their help and discretion.

“Now that it’s finally clear to everyone that the majority of citizens want a strong, enforceable ethics ordinance, [the] city council must make this a top priority,” resident Anne Dorans Sullivan posted to the Denton Matters Facebook page after results were complete. “We have waited far too long already.”

Adding a full-time city auditor position was also clarification, which added to the charter to always maintain and fill the spot.

There is still no auditor currently since former auditor Craig Hamenter announced his sudden retirement in a resignation letter sent to city council members in mid-October.

Hamenter was the first person to fill the position after it being empty for seven years and held the spot for eight months. No one from council received an explanation why he left or was able to contact Hamenter.

The city has since hired a third-party firm to help with the search.

“The search for a new auditor is in progress,” Watts said. “A recruiting firm is looking at potentials for the job and will help us decide.”

The newly adopted pay for city council members requires passing an ordinance, which is going to be discussed within the next upcoming city council meetings.

Currently, city council members are not paid, but will now receive a monthly stipend of $750, while the mayor will receive a monthly stipend of $1,000. These will also have restrictions on the pay increase.

Watts said some of these amendments were looser than what some residents wanted, so they were placed on the ballot and are now going to be put into the new city charter.

Denton city council meetings are held at 6:30 p.m. on the first and third Tuesday of each month in the council chambers.

Featured Image: Denton residents voted on Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017 on amendments made to the city charter. Residents were also asked to vote on charter amendments. Cameron Roe

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Julia Falcon

Julia Falcon

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