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Public hearing on revised charter set June 7

A majority of proposed changes to Austin’s charter seem set to pass City Council on June 7.

That’s because council on Monday voted to have a public hearing that day, which is required by law. After that hearing, a vote is expected, and unanimous approval is needed to enact changes.

The changes involve a host of structural modifications to the city’s governing document, including the removal of gender-specific phrasing, archaic definitions and areas that do not comply with state law. As a result, the new charter is expected to be much shorter and more “user-friendly” then its predecessor.

However, some proposed substantive changes seem headed to November’s election. Council members Marian Clennon and John Martin previously voted against changing the charter, but the two have recently agreed to pass changes — provided certain issues go to a public vote.

The issues in question are allowing the mayor to vote if council deadlocks — currently, the mayor can never vote — and bumping the term lengths for mayor and council member at-large from two years to four.

The city charter commission, which has been in charge of suggesting how to update the document, unanimously decided to go forward in this fashion earlier Monday. The commission had tried to get all the changes — including the substantive issues — passed by council, but that effort failed late last year.

View the updated charter online

To see the proposed charter revisions, go to the city’s website: www.ci.austin.mn.us/

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Public hearing on revised charter set June 7