COLUMBIA — The five amendments to Columbia's home rule charter certainly weren't the big-ticket items on Tuesday's ballot, but voters approved them all. Only one — proposition 4 — was decided by less than 1,000 votes.
This amendment passed on a vote of 14,670 to 3,307. It will allow an assistant city manager to step in as acting city manager while the city manager is gone. There were no assistant city managers when the charter was first approved, so the manager was required to appoint a department head to be lead administrator in his absence. Assistant city managers work more closely with the city manager and have more knowledge in all areas of the city government, City Manager Bill Watkins and others said in arguing for the proposition.
This amendment passed on a vote of 11,772 to 4,995. It removes the restriction that prohibits the transfer of funds between departments within the first six months of a fiscal year. This will allow any department that has a surplus to transfer money to another department that might need it early in the fiscal year.
This amendment passed on a vote of 9,225 to 8,541. It removes the charter requirement that the director of the Water and Light Department be a certified engineer. The amendment allows the city to hire someone who is more management- and vision-oriented, and the certified engineers on staff would advise and report to the director. The City Council and staff felt this requirement is out of date in an age when there already are several certified engineers working in the department.
This amendment passed on a vote of 13,525 to 3,650. It gives the city clerk more time to process signatures on petitions and candidate nominations. The charter previously did not allow extra time or enough time to process signatures based on holidays, weekends or workloads.
This amendment passed on a vote of 12,758 to 4,024. It allows city bank deposits to be secured by the same kinds of funds that are acceptable for state deposits. The charter previously allowed city deposits to be secured only by federal government investments. The state has other investments it considers just as secure. This amendment allows the policy on securing city deposits to match those of the state even if the state standards change in the future.