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Charter Change Commission Considers KC Government Options

Dan Verbeck

A Commission that will look for ways to change the foundation of how Kansas City Government operates has met just once and the opening session, Wednesday, heard wide ranging  recommendations that spread from finance to setup of Council Districts.

The first assurance came from Mayor Sly James who appointed the 13 member commission. He said he would not be looking over their shoulders. If the operating  charter needs change, he'll ask for proof when recommendations are written.

The first caution came from City Attorney Bill Geary. He told the panel if changes need to go on the November ballot, the City Council will need to know the issues by late August, so there is not much time.  

City Manager Troy Schulte thinks future city councils should be able to change or even eliminate city departments. Many of them now are mandated by Charter.

Schulte said the city needs fast flexibility.

"What I'm trying to do is push accountability into those issues and that's one of the structural issues we've had to work around in order to allow key division managers in this organization to have ability to say ' it isn't working, we're going to go a different direction to make those changes.' "

Charter reviewers were told the City could use more flexibility handling reserve funds, but one of the toughest issues facing the panel was laid out by City Attorney Geary, who showed an array of possible basic structures.  Those options include strong versus weak mayor forms of government, the arrangement of Council Districts, and how Council Members will be elected.  

Last major charter change was in 2006. 

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