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Procedure for Referendum or Recall
November 1, 2010 - Jim Smith
Since Saturday when Parkersburg City Council seemingly sealed a $3-a-week user fee for all those who work inside the city limits, some citizens have asked what they could do to stop the proposed "tax."
Citizens living outside the city limits but working inside the city seem even more upset over the "tax," which they have no control over and no "representation" on the governmental body that is expected to adopt the new "tax." They are vocalizing the pre-1776 cry of "Taxation without Representation," even though I'm told the state Supreme Court already has shot down that argument in early tax issues.
But citizens are not without recourse, should city council adopt the tax. There is an article in the City Charter that sets the procedure for referendum of council action and recall of elected officials. It reads:
ARTICLE VIII of the Parkersburg City Charter INITIATIVE, REFERENDUM AND RECALL
SECTION 8.100 INITIATIVE. The qualified voters of the City shall have power to propose ordinances to the Council and, if the Council fails to adopt an ordinance so proposed without any change in substance, to adopt or reject it at a City election; provided that such power shall not extend to the budget or capital program or any ordinance relating to appropriation of money, levy of taxes or salaries of City officers or employees.
SECTION 8.101 REFERENDUM. The qualified voters of the City shall have power to require reconsideration by the Council of any adopted ordinance and, if the Council fails to repeal an ordinance so reconsidered, to approve or reject it at a City election; provided that such power shall not extend to the budget or capital program or any emergency ordinance or ordinance relating to appropriation of money, levy of taxes or salaries of City officers or employees.
SECTION 8.102 PETITIONS. (1) Number of Signatures. Initiative and referendum petitions must be signed by qualified voters of the City equal in number to at least 15 percent of the total number of qualified voters registered to vote at the last regular (as distinguished from primary or special) City election. (2) Form and Content. All papers of a petition shall be uniform in size and style and shall be assembled as one instrument for filing. Each signature shall be executed in ink or indelible pencil in the handwriting of the signer and shall be followed by the address of the person signing. Petitions shall contain or have attached thereto throughout their circulation the full text of the ordinance proposed and shall cite by title the ordinance sought to be reconsidered. (3) Affidavit of Circulator. Each paper of a petition shall have attached to it when filed an affidavit executed by the circulator thereof stating that he personally circulated the paper, the number of signatures thereon, that all the signatures were affixed in his presence, that he believes them to be the genuine signatures of the persons whose names they purport to be and that each signer had an opportunity before signing to read the full text of the ordinance proposed or sought to be reconsidered. (4) Time for Filing Referendum Petitions. Except as may be otherwise provided by general law, referendum petitions must be filed within 30 days after adoption by the Council of the ordinance sought to be reconsidered.
SECTION 8.103 PROCEDURE. (1) Filing Petitions. Any qualified voter or voters, or an attorney-at-law acting in their behalf, may file such petitions by delivering the assembled instrument to the City Clerk together with the affidavit of such voter or voters, stating the name or names of such voters as petitioners' committee and one address, of a voter or the attorney- at-law, to which all notices are to be sent, and setting out in full the proposed initiative ordinance or citing by title the ordinance sought to be reconsidered. (2) Certificate of Clerk, Amendment. Within twenty days after the petition is filed, the City Clerk shall complete a certificate as to its sufficiency, specifying, if it is insufficient, the particulars wherein it is defective and shall promptly send a copy of the certificate to the petitioners' committee at the address so provided by certified mail. A petition certified insufficient for lack of the required number of valid signatures may be amended once if the petitioners' committee files a notice of intention to amend it with the Clerk within two days after receiving the copy of his certificate and files a supplemental petition upon additional papers within ten days after receiving the copy of such certificate. Such supplemental petition shall comply with the requirements of Section 8.102(2) and (3); and within five days after it is filed, the Clerk shall complete a certificate as to the sufficiency of the petition as amended and promptly send a copy of such certificate to the petitioners' committee by certified mail as in the case of an original petition. If a petition or amended petition is certified sufficient, or if a petition or amended petition is certified insufficient and the petitioners' committee does not elect to amend or request Council review under subsection (3) of this section within the time required, the Clerk shall promptly present his certificate to the Council, and the certificate shall then be a final determination as to the sufficiency of the petition. (3) Council Review. If a petition has been certified insufficient and the petitioners' committee does not file notice of intention to amend it or if an amended petition has been certified insufficient, the committee may, within two days after receiving the copy of such certificate, file a request that it be reviewed by the Council. The Council shall review the certificate at its next meeting following the filing of such request and approve or disapprove it, and the Council's determination shall then be a final determination as to the sufficiency of the petition. (4) Court Review; New Petition. A final determination as to the sufficiency of a petition shall be subject to court review. A final determination of insufficiency, even if sustained upon court review, shall not prejudice the filing of a new petition for the same purpose, except in the case of referendum when the applicable time limit has expired.
SECTION 8.104 REFERENDUM PETITIONS; SUSPENSION OF EFFECT OF ORDINANCE. When a referendum petition is timely filed with the City Clerk, the ordinance sought to be reconsidered shall be suspended from taking effect. Such suspension shall terminate when: (1) There is a final determination of insufficiency of the petition, or (2) The petitioners' committee withdraws the petition, or (3) The Council repeals the ordinance, or (4) Upon final certification of the results of the City-wide vote favoring the ordinance.
SECTION 8.105 ACTION ON PETITIONS. (1) Action by Council. When an initiative or referendum petition has been finally determined sufficient, the Council shall promptly consider the proposed initiative ordinance in the manner provided for the enactment of ordinances or reconsider the referred ordinance by voting its repeal. If the Council fails to adopt a proposed initiative ordinance without any change in substance within 60 days or fails to repeal the referred ordinance within 30 days after the date the petition was finally determined sufficient, it shall submit the proposed or referred ordinance to the voters of the City. (2) Submission to Voters. The vote of the City on a proposed or referred ordinance shall be held not less than 30 days and not later than one year from the date of the final Council vote thereon. If no regular City election is to be held within the period prescribed in this subsection, the Council shall provide for a special election; otherwise the vote shall be held at the same time as such regular election, except that the Council may in its discretion provide for a special election at an earlier date within the prescribed period. Copies of the proposed or referred ordinances shall be made available at the polls.
SECTION 8.106 RESULTS OF ELECTION. (1) Initiative. If a majority of the qualified electors voting on a proposed initiative ordinance vote in its favor, it shall be considered adopted upon certification of the election results and shall be treated in all respects in the same manner as ordinances of the same kind adopted by the Council. If conflicting ordinances are approved at the same election, the one receiving the greatest number of affirmative votes shall prevail to the extent of such conflict. (2) Referendum. If a majority of the qualified electors voting on a referred ordinance vote against it, it shall be considered repealed upon certification of the election results.
SECTION 8.107 POWER OF RECALL. The qualified voters shall have the power to recall the Mayor or any member of Council, whether elected by popular vote or selected to fill a vacancy, and may exercise such power by filing with the City Clerk a petition signed by qualified voters of the City equal in number to at least 20 percent of the total number of qualified voters registered to vote at the last regular City election. The petition shall be signed and verified in the manner required for initiative and referendum petitions, shall contain a demand for the removal of the subject officer or officers and shall contain a general statement of the reasons for which the removal is sought.
SECTION 8.108 ELECTION UNDER RECALL PETITION. Thereafter, if the petition is certified as sufficient, in accordance with the procedures applicable to initiative and referendum petitions, Council shall cause a special election to be held in not less than 30 days nor more than 90 days from the date of such certification unless a general Municipal election shall occur within 120 days from such date. The published notice of such election shall contain the reasons for demanding the recall in not more than 200 words and a justification by the subject officer within the same limits; provided, however, that if the petition seeks to recall more than one officer, each may provide a justification of not more than 100 words. Ballots shall be in the following form: "Shall —————————————— be removed (from the Council) (as Mayor) of The City of Parkersburg? For the recall of ————————————————————————————————— Against the recall of ————————————————————————————— . " Upon certification of the results of the election, if a majority of those voting on the question have favored recall, the office of the officer so recalled shall be vacant.
SECTION 8.109 FILLING VACANCY CAUSED BY RECALL. When a vacancy occurs as the result of a recall election or when an officer resigns after a recall petition certified by the City Clerk to be sufficient is presented to Council, the vacancy shall be filled in accordance with the provisions of this Charter relating to the filling of vacancies in the respective offices involved.
SECTION 8.110 LIMITATIONS ON RECALL. No recall petition shall be filed against any officer within six months after he takes office, and no officer shall be subjected to more than one recall election during a term of office.
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