Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Bellevue term-length bill stalled

House committee calls for advisory vote from city residents

Express Staff Writer

A state House committee last week rejected an initiative from the Bellevue City Council to extend its members' term lengths from two years to four.

Despite personal appearances in support of the bill by City Council members Dave Hattula and Janet Duffy, the House Local Government Committee voted 7-4 against moving House Bill 505 on to the full House.

State Rep. Wendy Jaquet, D-Ketchum, who helped write the bill, said Rep. Vito Barbieri, R-Dalton Gardens, made a motion to keep the bill in committee, suggesting that the Bellevue City Council conduct an "advisory vote" among Bellevue citizens before trying again with the proposed change.

"They felt that the City Council had received enough letters from residents and comments from previous elected officials that it was a big enough policy change that voters needed to weigh in," Jaquet said.

The Bellevue City Council voted unanimously in January to seek approval from the Legislature to extend term lengths, stating that it would allow local elected officials more time to handle the "learning curve" of the city's government issues, and decrease the work load on city staff members who handle elections.

Permission is needed from the Legislature because Bellevue is the only city in Idaho still governed by a territorial charter.

Bellevue residents Florence Blanchard and Cindy Hinojosa spoke out against the change, saying the council should slow down and seek approval from Bellevue residents.

Mayor Chris Koch said in an interview Tuesday that the council could bring the issue to an advisory vote on the November ballot.

"We have not yet discussed this in depth," Koch said.

In other Bellevue news:

( The council authorized a not-to-exceed bid of $20,000 for four tons of crack seal to be used on city streets this summer. If the contract is finalized, the Street Department will start with newer subdivisions first, including Maple Ridge, Sunrise, Chantrelle and Riverside Estates, then work into the old town site from north to south.

Tony Evans:

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