Council Discussed Term Length & Limits

Will also consider future ‘one percent for Art’ development policy

At the City Council Work Session on April 2, 2018, there was a discussion, introduced by Mayor Jeff Serdy, on term limits for mayor and city council, as well as the length of the mayor’s term. Currently, the mayor’s term is two years, and the council members serve for 4 years. There is no limit on how many terms each officeholder can serve if they are reelected.

Mayor Serdy said, ”I have sat up here for 10 years, and constantly we’re hit with ‘why don’t we have term limits?’” He described the policies of other cities and state offices and said that the council has never had a formal discussion on limits.

“I don’t see that there is a problem,” said Councilman Dave Waldron. “To me, the ballot box is the limit. If the voters don’t want somebody up here, they don’t vote for them… it is attempting to fix something that isn’t broke.”

City Clerk Kathy Connelly said that other cities have limits as part of their charter. “Other non-charter cities, if [terms] exist, they would have had to put it on the ballot for voters to approve.”

Connolly, who has been with the city more than 35 years, said, “When we first started out, mayor and council both ran for reelection every two years.” She said that was changed, because many who were elected would begin running again as soon as they were seated. Making the term longer allowed for more dedication.

“The voters approved the length of the mayor’s term,” she said.

Councilwoman Christa Rizzi asked why the mayor’s term is half as long as the council’s term. Connelly said that around 1985, the council chose to put the election of the mayor on the ballot as a two-year term, and that is what the voters approved.

“If you wanted to change that, you would have to send it back to the voters.”

City Attorney Joel Stern said that there was an initiative in the past to impose term limits, but it failed.

Councilwoman Gail Evans shared some research she did on 16 cities of similar populations to Apache Junction. 7 of the cities had a 2 year term for mayor, 9 had a four year term. “Only one city, Casa Grande, had a term limit, and it was only for the mayor and not on the council,” she said. She also pointed out that of 91 cities, 7 of them had mayors who were appointed by the council, not elected.

“We did it that way until about 1987,” said Connelly. Connelly also said that any action taken by the mayor and council would not apply to those already sitting. It would have to be for future elections, and she said “It is too late for the August ballot.”

The city clerk suggested the entire item be brought back on another agenda and said that council could choose to address any part of it.

The council also discussed a new public policy concept: dedicating a percentage of future permit fees for acquiring community art. There was little information about who the funds would be collected from—commercial-only projects or commercial and residential projects, but the council agreed that it would not be considered as an impact fee. One town near Tucson, Oro Valley, was the only community in Arizona with such a fee written into their code, and city staff recommended further investigation. Generally, there was little enthusiasm from the council for adding costs to incoming projects. Development Services Director Larry Kirch said that Apache Junction permit fees have not been updated since 2006 and that they were probably on the low side. This item will be set for direction to staff at a future meeting.

Also at the April 2 meeting, council and staff discussed:Proposed projects to be submitted for the 2018 Community Development Block Grant and the State Special Project grant; A city- initiated rezoning proposal for properties along Ironwood from Apache Trail to Broadway for the purpose of making future developments easier; An intergovernmental agreement with South Central Planning and Development Commission for licensing software to replace what has become an inefficient system in Development Services; and the response to the city’s bid invitation for janitorial services.

City Council meetings are open to the public and held in chambers at 300 E. Superstition Blvd. in Apache Junction. The meetings begin at 7:00 p.m. Complete agendas and supporting materials are available at https://apachejunction.legistar.com/Calendar.aspx.

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