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story.lead_photo.caption The John G. Christy Municipal Building is pictured in Jefferson City. Photo by News Tribune / News Tribune.

The Jefferson City Council Committee on Administration approved some recommendations of changes to the city charter Wednesday, including possible changes to residency requirements for the city clerk.

City charter amendments that were not included on the April ballot were discussed for possible consideration for the April 2020 election. The committee can recommend changes, which will then move to the Jefferson City Council for approval.

The committee recommended an amendment that would alter residency requirements for the city clerk.

Currently, the city charter requires the city clerk to reside within city limits from the first day of employment. The clerk is the only city employee required to live within city limits in the charter.

The proposed amendment would allow the city clerk 180 days, or six months, to establish residency from the first day of employment.

That time could be extended by a majority vote of the Jefferson City Council, if needed. Language will also be added before council approval, which will specify a one-time extension of another six months.

This requirement would also be applied to the city administrator and city counselor.

An amendment was proposed in April 2017 to change the clerk's residency requirements to state the clerk should "comply with any residency requirements applicable to department directors as may be established by ordinance."

Per the city's personnel policy manual, department directors must live within city limits within six months of employment, with a possible six-month extension granted by the city administrator or Parks and Recreation Commission, as applicable.

That amendment, along with several others, expired in July 2017 after it was placed on the council's informal calendar in May and was not voted on.

In January of this year, a similar bill to change residency requirements for the city administrator and city clerk failed after a 5-4 vote from the City Council. Bills require a majority of six votes to pass, and one council member was absent.

At the time, Ward 4 Councilman Ron Fitzwater, who voted against the proposed bill, said the vote seemed too close.

"If we're going to change our charter, 5-4 to change our living document seems like a pretty close vote on a very important issue," Fitzwater told the News Tribune in January. "This section just doesn't seem to be jelling to the point where we have a solid (proposition) that we can take to the voters."

Also Wednesday, the committee discussed changes to the charter's legislative procedures.

Three options were presented to the committee by the Jefferson City Charter Review Advisory Committee, a special committee created by the council to review and recommend charter changes.

The option recommended by the advisory committee would designate a singular sponsor for bills presented to the City Council, who would have sole power to move bills to or from the informal calendar and request suspension of the rule that requires at least 96 hours to pass between the first reading of a bill and a vote by the council.

A second option would allow bills to have more than one sponsor, let any council member request to suspend the rules, and would require a sponsors' request or a majority vote of the council to move a bill to or from the informal calendar.

The third option would remove language about the informal calendar from the charter and would add language stating the council would establish additional rules and procedures for approval of bills and resolutions, which would be reviewed by the council annually.

The committee requested City Counselor Ryan Moehlman create a compromise between the first two options, which would limit a bill to one primary sponsor with the ability to place a bill on the informal calendar or pull it off, but also allow a majority vote of the council to remove a bill from the informal calendar.

The committee decided to discuss that option at its November meeting before recommending it to the City Council.

The committee also recommended general changes move to the council, including changing gender-specific language throughout the charter and other clarifying language.

At its meeting in September, the committee recommended an amendment to the council that would prohibit certain elected officials including the mayor, council members, city administrator, city clerk and others, from serving in other political positions.

They also recommended a "grandfathering clause" which would allow current officers to remain in their positions until the end of their term.

These recommendations and any made at the November meeting need to be approved by the City Council before Jan. 22 if they want to place them on the April 2020 election ballot.

Moehlman said the April 2020 election is still an option for any of these charter changes, but it is not a firm deadline.

Any changes not approved in time for the April ballot could "die an uneventful death" or be brought up for future elections, Moehlman said.

The next meeting of the Jefferson City Council on Administration is Nov. 6.

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