Littleton registered electors will consider five amendments to the city charter on the November 6, 2018 ballot. The charter was adopted in 1959 and has been amended eight times in its 59-year history. The charter is the basic document that defines the city, powers, functions and essential procedures of the city government. The charter is the most important legal document of any city. Charter amendments are generally considered housekeeping in order to ensure the document is aligned with current needs and practices.
Ballot Question 3A: “Shall Sections 23 and 29 of the Littleton City Charter concerning council membership qualifications and rules be combined into one section and remove language pertaining to judicial review, which is a right that independently exists pursuant to court rules?”
Ballot Question 3B: “Shall Sections 54, 55, and 57 of the Littleton City Charter concerning city attorney appointment, duties and special counsel be amended by placing all into one section of the charter, removing qualification language that is more appropriate in the city code and clarifying special counsel appointment, and deleting Section 56 regarding lawsuits?”
The current provisions in the charter pertaining to the city attorney do not reflect current practices. A vote to approve the change will update these sections while clarifying the language and intent:
1. Place all duties of the city attorney in a single section.
2. Remove qualification language, which is more appropriate for placement in the city code.
3. Replace the language regarding assistants. The current language dates back to a time of employing part-time assistants who maintained their own private practices, rather than the current practice of employing a deputy city attorney who is an employee of the city.
4. Clarify the selection process for outside counsel and its funding through the annual appropriation and budget process.
Ballot Question 3C: “Shall Section 58 of the Littleton City Charter concerning the establishment, appointment, qualifications, term, etc. of the municipal court judge be amended to include the term ‘presiding judge’ and for appointment of associate judges by the presiding judge?” If approved, these changes will bring the charter into conformance with the recognition of separation of powers and the operation of the judicial branch as a separate part of city government. Continues on page 6.
Ballot Question 3D: “Shall Sections 117 and 118 of the Littleton City Charter concerning revocable licenses and permits be combined into one section and give city council authority to delegate the city manager to grant revocable licenses?” Unlike easements, licenses do not convey a right or interest in real property, but instead are a limited right to use property subject to all of the restrictions and requirements placed on the license by the city as the owner. Current charter provisions suggest that licenses and permits involve a property right, which they do not. In addition, they conflict with the provision that the city manager is the administrative head of city government. The proposed amendment would grant the city council the power to delegate the responsibility of licenses to the city manager. This is appropriate as the city manager is responsible for the day-to-day administration of the city.
Ballot Question 3E: “Shall Section 27 of the Littleton City Charter be amended concerning meetings and providing for executive sessions to consider items confidential under state and federal rules; provide instructions on buying and selling property; consider appointment, evaluation and discipline of the City Manager, City Attorney and Presiding Municipal Judge; to receiving legal advice from the city’s attorneys on legal issues and to require all formal action occur in an open public session of the council?”
The proposed amendments permit the council to hold executive sessions for evaluation of council appointees, instruct negotiators on the purchase and sale of property, and to receive legal advice from the city’s attorneys. However, all formal action must occur in open public session.