Santa Fe voters might be surprised by the length of the city election ballot come spring. City Council this week approved nine questions for the March ballot on proposed changes to city charter. Each voter will also have a chance to choose a mayor and a councilor in his or her district.
The city charter, much like the state and federal constitution, is the legal blueprint that guides the Santa Fe's city government. An appointed city charter commission came up with the recommendations earlier in the year.--
Two of the questions will relate to strengthening the mayor's political power, the first of which will pack in a lot of information, including:
—Changing the mayor from a part-time to full-time position that pays $74,000 until an "independent city salary commission" sets a permanent salary.
—Allowing the mayor to supervise and fire the city manager, the city attorney and the city clerk without the city council's approval.
—Giving the city manager authority to hire and fire any city employee, except the city attorney and the city clerk.
—Scaling back the city council's authority to fire the city manager from a simple majority of five votes to a supermajority of six votes.
—Making the mayor work with city staff to build a budget that must be approved by the City Council.
—Making the mayor compile a legislative agenda every year to present to City Council. City Council must then take action on the mayor's proposals.
The second question that would change the mayor's power is much more simple, giving the office power to vote with the city council on all proposed legislation. Currently, the mayor can only vote as a tiebreaker.
The remaining seven questions will deal with issues like water conservation, an employee's right to earn a living wage, preserving neighborhoods, establishing an audit committee, establishing a "citizens redistricting committee," limiting campaign contributions and requiring "timely disclosure" of tax increases or bond measures.
Read how the questions will appear on the March municipal election ballot below: