The Blue Springs Charter Review Commission, a group of community members unaffiliated with the City Council and that suggests revisions to city practices, removed key checks and balances in 2014, according to Council Member Dale Carter.
Now, Carter calls this a mistake, one he says all the council’s members share blame for based their support at the time. He says council members didn’t ask enough questions. Now, he’s eager to see some revisions to the charter on the upcoming April ballot and spearheading the conversation.
“I worried about the mayor becoming a full, voting member of the City Council in 2014,” Carter explained. “Now, he is essentially a councilman at large for Blue Springs.”
Carter cited an imbalance of power he says stems from section 12, paragraph 8 of the charter, which addresses appointment of charter review members. The section states, “The members of the Charter Review Commission shall be selected as provided by the City Council.”
Carter pointed out that the mayor isn’t mentioned in the passage. However, according to him, the mayor nominated three members, while others on the council only nominated one each.
In response, Mayor Carson Ross highlighted the commission’s expertise and experience.
“I think the volunteers do a good job reviewing the charter, and there’s no reason to think differently about it this time,” Ross said.
Another detail Carter insists needs review is the process of appointing the council’s city attorney and prosecutor. Previously, appointments made by the mayor relied on the prior advice and consent from the council. Now, the mayor alone makes these decisions.
City Attorney Jackie Sommers verified this change.
“The 2014 charter amendment gave the mayor the sole authority to appoint the city prosecutor and city attorney,” Sommers said.
Ross called the change and current appointment process for these two positions a “gray area” and “matter of interpretation,” acknowledging that they should be clarified in upcoming revisions.
“The council and general public can and should make suggestions for the commission to consider,” Ross said. “The ultimate decision for approval lies with the voters.”
The commission has six months to review and make amendments to the document, which can be found on the city’s website, bluespringsgov.com.