Wakefield City Council is hoping city residents will approve three charter changes.
Written by Jesse Baroka on May 14, 2019
WAKEFIELD — The Wakefield City Council is hoping city residents will approve three charter changes during the November election. The first would eliminate the civil service for city hiring. The program is deemed unnecessary by the council. A second would amend the terms of city council members from two years to four, and stagger the terms so that two council members would be elected in one cycle and three in the next. The idea is to create continuity, rather than the possible wholesale change of council every two years as under the current charter. The third change relates to the scheduling of city elections. Rather than holding elections on odd-numbered years, they would be held during the general election on even-numbered years. That change would reduce election costs, as a single-purpose city council election no longer would be necessary. The votes to advance the three proposals to the governor’s office for approval, the next step before placing them on the ballot, were 4-0, with council member Jim Anderson absent, due to illness. The council heard a presentation from county drain commissioner Dan Wood. Wood explained that there are currently no drainage districts in the county, but that such a district could be formed by council (or township board) action, or petitioned into being by up by 10 individuals within a proposed drainage district.He said such districts can be used to alleviate problems like the flooding being experienced in some parts of the county.The council also agreed to invest funds used to cover retiree healthcare benefits with MERS, and approved transfer of up to $70,000 already earmarked for that purpose to MERS.In addition, the council will continue to invest $5,000 per month in the retiree insurance account. City treasurer Sherry Ravelli said the city has an unfunded liability of about $400,000 for employee health insurance, and the investments now being made will eventually bring the account into compliance with state standards. More in this weeks Wakefield News / Bessemer Pick and Axe.