City amendments to go to voters in 2016

By Frank Lewis

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Portsmouth City Council is expected to pass three ordinances pertaining to items they want to place before voters in next year’s primary election. The items were originally slated for the upcoming November election, but Council was unable to get them through the three readings in time for this years voting.

All three ordinances were introduced by First Ward Councilman Kevin W. Johnson, who explained the contents of each of them for the Daily Times.

The first ordinance amends Section 147(a) of the City Charter.

“That is to vote for not more than one,” Johnson said. “In the Sixth Ward primary, it said to vote for two. This is really addressing that issue so that it doesn’t happen again. The big changes – any primary ballot shall be printed for said office, containing language – ‘vote for not more than one.’”

The second ordinance amends Section 3(a) of the Charter. That amendment deals with the formation of a Charter Review Committee.

“We haven’t had a Charter Review since 1996,” Johnson said. “Other cities have them at minimum every 10 years, including the village our city manager was last at. What this is creating is a Charter Review Committee not less than every 10 years, commencing in 2016.”

The last of the ordinances to take to the voters deals with section 36 of the Charter that currently reads – “There shall be a Department of Law, a Department of Finance and Audit, and such other departments and officers as may be established by ordinance.” The amendment would remove the title “Audit.”

“(City Auditor) Trent Williams, his office does not audit,” Johnson said. “There is no auditing done by that office at all. They may have, in the old days before the states actually got into the business of auditing the cities. I can’t document that, but I have a feeling that’s what the issue was back in the old days, they weren’t going to go around to every city to audit. I’m sure they depended on the local treasurer who also had the title of auditor, and they would audit and present those findings to the state. (Now) the state auditor will either do it, or, if the city is in good shape, and they haven’t found anything for five years they’re allowed to turn it over to bid to a CPA (Certified Public Accountant) who is approved by the state auditor to audit the city.”

No specific date has yet been set for the 2016 primary election.

Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.

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