Little Elm will likely have three items on the ballot for a charter election next year.
During Tuesday’s Town Council meeting Caitlan Biggs, assistant to the town manager, presented recommendations made by the Charter Review Committee. The election would likely take place in May of 2020.
The charter states that a committee convenes every two years to review the charter.
One proposal is to increase the pay for the mayor and council members. Currently the mayor and each council member receive $25 per meeting. The recommendation is to bump the mayor’s pay to $100 per meeting and the council members’ pay to $50 per meeting.
Mayor David Hillock said he supports putting the item on the ballot, adding that if it passes he wouldn’t want it to go into effect until June of 2021, at which point his term would be over.
He said the $25 rate was put in place in 1994. He said that’s worth $43.31 today, factoring in inflation.
“So basically all we’re doing is keeping up with inflation with these number changes,” Hillock said.
Councilman Curtis Cornelious said he would also favor putting it on the ballot since it gets elected officials closer to recovering money they spend on campaigning.
Councilwoman Lisa Norman said she, too, would support raising the rate because it would help cover childcare costs.
Council members Neil Blais, Tony Singh and Stephanie Shoemaker said they would prefer to leave the rate the same.
“It’s not because of the money that you do this. It’s the loyalty,” Shoemaker said.
Another proposal is to change the date the town’s budget must be adopted from Sept. 15 to Sept. 30.
“Historically we’ve always had to schedule a special meeting, and September gets a little crazy as we’re finishing up the budget and with all the other things we have going on,” Biggs said. “So we’d like to change that to Sept. 30 so we can still be in compliance with truth and taxation laws, notices and public hearing requirements and also be able to consider the budget in that second regular-scheduled meeting in September.”
The ballot will also include changing the charter review frequency from every two years to every four years. That measure failed in 2015.
The committee initially declined to recommend that change, but Hillock said he would like to see that be on the ballot.
“It’s not really a waste of money,” Hillock said. “It’s more of a waste of staff’s time to do this every two years. Because literally as soon as you get it on the books and adopted the new charter because it’s gone through the election process it’s time to appoint a new committee and start the process over again.”
The committee also considered changing an at-large council seat to a district seat, but it decided not to recommend that change since the new census will be out in 2020.
The final amendment considered but not recommended was changing council terms from three three-year consecutive terms to two three-year consecutive terms.
Biggs said the committee thought it would be best to wait for the staggering terms to get settled before changing district seats or council terms.
The council will vote at a future meeting to officially include these on a ballot.
The original charter was adopted in 2001 and was amended in 2005, 2009, 2011 and 2015. The 2017 committee opted not to recommend any charter amendments.