LA MARQUE — Voters will weigh in on 10 proposed changes to the city’s charter, including getting rid of term limits for the mayor and council and allowing reimbursement of certain expenses for elected officials.

The council approved placing the 10 propositions on the Nov. 4 ballot.

The majority of the measures are meant to clarify and simplify the language in the charter, follow recommendations made by the Texas Municipal League and make the charter agree with state law. But when the council approved the propositions Monday members spent the majority of their time discussing two propositions.

Proposition 4 would get rid of term limits for council and mayor, and Proposition 5 would allow them to be reimbursed for “approved expenses incurred during the course of their duties.”

According to the city charter, council members do not get paid a salary. During the discussion council members expressed concern that residents would read Proposition 5, which reads “Members of the City Council may be reimbursed or approved expenses incurred during the course of their duties as prescribed by City Ordinance,” and think they were trying to change that.

But Councilman Keith Bell reiterated that the mayor and council would continue to serve without a salary. But, if approved, Proposition 5 would allow them to be reimbursed for certain preapproved expenses.

Mayor Bobby Hocking said he and the council members each get $50 a month now that goes toward expenses. If the proposition were approved the council would be able to set a new limit and approved expenses by passing an ordinance.

“The proposition’s goal is to allow for reimbursement so that we can encourage citizens to run for office,” Bell said.

Councilwoman Connie Trube expressed concern over trying to entice people to run for office with the promise of reimbursement or compensation. But Bell said holding office can come with a lot of expenses and allowing for reimbursement could encourage someone to run for office who was worried about paying for things such as gas to get around town or cellphone bills or going to conferences.

Term limits was another topic of discussion for the council. Currently, someone in the council or mayor’s seat can only serve for three consecutive three-year terms. If voters approve Proposition 4 that limitation will be scrapped.

“We trying to make it easier for our constituents to keep those representatives who have served you well,” said Councilman Keith Bell.

Ron Crowder, the chairman of the city’s charter review committee, said the term limit is on election day when voters can get rid of current elected officials and elect new ones.

“Term limits have the ability to get rid of good council members or good mayors,” Crowder said.

Bell, who is serving his third term on the council, said residents can get rid of bad or underperforming elected officials every three years at election time or with a recall election.

“If you like you council representative, you can continue to support him or her,” Bell said. “If there are serious problems with your council member, then you still have the tool of recall.”


At a glance

La Marque voters will vote on 10 proposed charter amendments on Nov. 4.

  • Proposition 1 clarifies language on the city’s boundaries and limits.
  • Proposition 2 clarifies language on annexation.
  • Proposition 3 clarifies language on disannexation.
  • Proposition 4 would get rid of term limits for mayor and council.
  • Proposition 5 would allow mayor and council to be reimbursed for certain expenses.
  • Proposition 6 would clarify that the city would follow the Texas Election Code and Constitution in the event of a tie in a runoff election.
  • Proposition 7 would allow the city to use the same bank for up to three years.
  • Proposition 8 clarifies language regarding personal interest in city business.
  • Proposition 9 would allow for the city to adopt a Code of Ethics for all elected officers, board members, committee members, employees and volunteers of the city.
  • Proposition 10 would allow the council to set the number of members on the planning and zoning commission.

Contact reporter Christopher Smith Gonzalez at 409-683-5314 or chris.gonzalez@galvnews.com.

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(4) comments

MissionaryMan
Walter Manuel

While LM's city charter is certainly outdated and needed some changes it certainly DOESN'T NEED Prop 4, Prop 5 and Prop 10 changed!

We DEFINITELY don't need to change Prop 4 and end term limits. We see exactly what single member voting districts has done to destroy LMISD. That's a bunch of hog wash that "if you don't like your council member you can always vote them out at election time". Redistricting makes it virtually impossible to get rid of someone once they get into office and "recalls" should not be a way to have to get rid of anyone.

Prop 5, allowing the mayor and council to be reimbursed is fine except the way I understood them to say in the meeting to say is that it is in my opinion basically open-ended and unrestricted so long as "the budget would allow for it". Absolutely not, that's like giving them a signed blank check!

Changing Prop 5 leaves too much freedom to council and the city manager to keeping adding on expenses as they see fit with little transparency to the citizens of LM. These board members and mayor knew before running for office that they were to receive $50 a month just like every other council member and mayor received before them. These are volunteer positions not jobs.

And lastly Prop 10 should NOT change seeing how we just saw the new appointments to the Planning and Zoning commission be nothing more than political favor appointments.

Councilman Keith Bell appointed Russel Washington and Councilman Chris Lane appointed Deanna Bethea who's qualifications on their applications did not indicate any past experience or knowledge related to planning and zoning like that of Mr. Augustino Molis whose application stated that he was retired from the city of Galveston as a Code Enforcement Officer and dealt with planning and zoning issues for 9 years. (And no, I do not know nor have I ever met this Mr. Molis, but common sense says he's probably more qualified than the other two combined?)

The citizens of LM need to vote NO to Prop 4, Prop 5 and Prop 10 if they want to make sure that LM city council members continue working for and representing us and NOT the other way around.

You give some people an inch and they will undoubtedly try and take a mile.

Everyone better be careful of just how much rope that they are willing to give to the LM city council members to hang us with because ONCE THIS IS DONE, IT'S REALLY DONE! [sad]

Jake Feigle

Walter, you are so right. If proposition 4 Passes the only way to get rid of a Council member is by recall With elections we can send home a bad member without having a recall election, which is costly to the citizens of La Marque. I do think the Council members do need some reimbursement, but it should have strict limits. What would be allowed should be solid and not left to discussion. The list should be approved by the Citizens of La Marque. After all the boss needs to agree any increase in money to its employees. .If Mrs. Trube is getting recalled for remarks made in 2012, why is the Mayor not being recalled for not addressing the issue then? And why has the City Manager not been fired for the same reason? They didn't even bother to inform the rest of the Council members of the issue? Many question=s need to be answered Mr. Mayor.

MissionaryMan
Walter Manuel

Jake, I too don't have a problem with our council members being reimbursed for their expenses to an extent.

At what extent do you allow a council person to be reimbursed for their expenses that may include their own home internet service, cell phone service, gas etc, etc if there aren't definite guidelines put into place in order to make sure that the policy isn't being abused.

As far as term limits goes, 6 years for any city council member is long enough. If they haven't accomplished for the city of LM what they said that they could, then their of no use to our community anyways.

We need fresh new ideas from people who are not politically connected nor owe any political favors to others who are sitting on city council.

That's my take on it.....

Jake Feigle

As far as reimbursement for the Mayor and council members, each item would have be spelled out in detail, and submitted to the voters for approval. Once approved by the voters, they could not make any changes without voters approval. Knowing the people we have on the Council now I doubt if they could come up with anything thing voters would approve.. As for one 6 year term, I favor that for all offices from the President on down.

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