Florissant City Council Passes Charter Review Commission Bill
Despite its passage, the ordinance could face the same fate of its predecessor--a veto from the mayor.
Monday night, the Florissant City Council passed its second attempt at a charter review commission after a 40-minute debate. However, it appeared that similar concerns and questions surrounding its predecessor haunted the new bill.
The council faced the same situation in 2010. At that time, it passed a bill to form a charter review commission with a vote of 5-4, but Mayor Robert Lowery vetoed the bill, and the attempt to override the bill failed.
During that time, according to reports in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Mayor Lowery and other speculated that the bill was an attempt to change the strong-mayor form of government to one where a city manager would be used.
Following the failure of the override, council members agreed to form a subcommittee to review the charter, line-by-line and page-by-page as well as hold public hearings.
However, Ward 1 Councilman Tim Lee pointed out during Monday night’s meeting that a year has gone by, and nothing had been done with a subcommittee or the public hearings.
For a majority of Monday's meeting, council members and the public, including all of the candidates for the Ward 3 and Ward 6 seats, spoke out positively and negatively on the bill.
But history could be on the verge of repeating itself if Mayor Tom Schneider were to veto the current bill.
Ward 2 Councilman John Grib spoke out first in regards to the bill. He said that he’s interested and supportive of reviewing the charter, but he’s opposed to the method of establishing a commission for reviewing. Instead, he proposed a series of public hearings for residents to voice their thoughts on what should be reviewed in the charter.
“I like the idea of every citizen being on charter review commission,” Grib said. “The council doesn’t change the charter, the people change the charter.”
Ward 5 Councilman Keith Schildroth chimed in to say that he thought the council should take time to review the charter, and he’d be willing to meet however often needed to accomplish that.
The rest of the council, led by Ward 7 Councilwoman Karen McKay, believed a charter review commission would be the best thing for the city, especially in a time where the council has so much on its plate.
“It’s about reviewing the charter and the law of our city,” McKay said. “Important documents you look at, you study, you review.”
The council audience seemed to stir the most upon Mayor Schneider’s attempt to read a letter and was stopped by council president Keith English.
Audience members demanded in shouts and screams for the letter to be read out loud, but it was included in the public segment and as a part of the public record.
During the public segment, several voiced their support and opposition to the charter review bill.
Ward 3 Candidate Elizabeth O’Fallon addressed the council and the mayor to say that she believed everyone should support the bill.
“Florissant has seen a lot of changes in 37 years,” she said, “and I think the charter should reflect those changes.”
Ward 6 candidate Pat Stinnett didn’t share the same opinion, however.
“Residents of my ward are not talking about a charter review,” he said. “It’s a noble cause, but this is way down the list of priorities.”
Although the City Council passed the ordinance, it remains in the mayor’s hands to sign or veto.
In that case, Ward 7 Councilwoman McKay made it known that the city council would need to set aside some time to review the charter before the end of the year.