In third meeting, St. Louis County Charter Commission decides how it will operate

Pictured above: The 2019 St. Louis County Charter Commission convenes for its first meeting Feb. 21. Photo by Erin Achenbach.

By Erin Achenbach
Staff Reporter
eachenbach@callnewspapers.com

The St. Louis County Charter Commission held its third meeting last week, deciding how it will operate for the rest of its tenure this year.

The commission adopted a meeting schedule and committee assignments for the rest of the year.

After a discussion at its first meeting about whether Better Together should be involved with the commission, County Executive Steve Stenger-appointed member Ron Watermon resigned because he wrote the group’s executive summary for its merger and didn’t tell the commission at the time of the Better Together discussion.

At the second meeting, held in March, members complained about lack of communication, direction and wasted time.

In comparison, the April 4 meeting seemed tame in comparison. Whereas the first two meetings lasted more than two hours, the third meeting lasted barely an hour.

The commission plans to meet weekly for the remainder of the year, until its deadline to review and recommend changes to the county Charter ends Dec. 31.

But commission Chairman Gene McNary, a former county executive appointed by Stenger, hopes the commission will wrap up its recommendations sooner than that.

Commission meetings will be held weekly on Wednesdays at 1 p.m., except for April 11, May 9, Sept. 12, Oct. 10, and Nov. 7, when it will meet Thursdays at 1 p.m. There will be no meeting of the commission July 3, and a tentative meeting is scheduled for Nov. 27.

Commission members were also divided up into five work groups: governance, form of government, local governance, budget and cybersecurity. Each work group has seven members headed by a facilitator, except for the local governance group, which only has six members. No one has yet been assigned to the cybersecurity work group.

The commission agreed that work groups would meet in the mornings on the same day of the commission meetings, one at 11 a.m. and one at noon, with two different work groups meeting each week. The work groups would then bring their reports to the commission meeting to discuss with the rest of the members.

Commission members also expressed that they would like to formally hear from council members and department directors about suggested revisions to the Charter throughout the year.

County voters decide on years that end in 8 if a commission should convene. In November 2018, voters decided that a panel should be held.

The commission is charged with coming up with amendments to the current Charter or creating a new one altogether. It is possible that the commission could decide that no changes are necessary.

Any amendments or a new Charter would have to be approved by 60 percent of committee members, or nine out of the 14. Any final changes would ultimately have to be approved by county voters.

The Commission held its fourth meeting Thursday. Stay tuned for more news from the panel and its ongoing work looking at the county’s governing document.