In the Nov. 4 election, Mandeville voters will consider four proposed changes to the city’s home rule charter, as well as a proposal to rededicate half of a 1-cent sales tax to help fund other city needs.
Here are our positions on these proposals:
Amendment Package 1, technical changes. Yes.
This is generally a housekeeping amendment, including provisions meant to update language in the charter so that it tracks state election laws and the open meetings law. We support the changes.
Amendment Package 2, council vacancies, open meetings law. Yes.
This proposal shifts responsibility for filling council vacancies from the governor to the mayor in the event that the council fails to make a timely appointment, which seems a reasonable acknowledgment that local leaders are better able to fill vacancies in local government. It also requires that council members-elect comply with the Louisiana Open Meetings Law, a good way to advance government transparency.
Amendment Package 3, extending council term limits from two to three consecutive terms. Yes.
We’re generally skeptical about term limits for public officials. The ballot box, the most important potential term limit for elected officials, is already in place. This proposal would extend the number of consecutive terms for council members from two to three but outlaw the “musical chairs” practice in which term-limited members extend their tenure on the council by simply running for another seat. We favor eliminating term limits for council members altogether. These changes, at the very least, make term limits less restrictive.
Amendment Package 4, director of human resources. Yes.
Among other small revisions, this proposal changes the status of the city’s human resources director, who is half in the city’s civil service system and half outside the system. If approved, the amendment package would classify the director’s post as a civil service position.
Rededication of 1-cent sales tax. Yes.
In 1999, Mandeville voters approved a 1-cent sales tax, authorizing it to be used exclusively for city infrastructure. The tax generates about $4.6 million a year and has developed a large surplus, yet the city’s general fund, used to pay for other city services, is under stress. This proposal, if approved, would extend the sales tax until 2029 and rededicate half of it to the city’s general fund. This kind of flexibility gives leaders greater latitude to spend tax resources where they’re most needed, which is critical as local governments, faced with state and federal cutbacks, shoulder more of the burden for providing services.