Valid or invalid?
A petition seeking to repeal the city’s Home Rule Charter is likely going to need a third party to determine if it’s valid.
City officials said the petition submitted late last month by a five-person committee did not follow the guidelines outlined in the N.D. state century code for petitioning the repeal of Home Rule. Pages with signatures of residents did not include the specifically-worded petition, which is required, according to Karla Harmel, city auditor-administrator.
Dennis Fred, chairman of that committee, begs to differ, and the committee has consulted with an attorney as well as the N.D. Secretary of State’s office and the N.D. Attorney General’s office to determine if the circulated petition was within the legal guidelines.
“Right now we’re just gathering information,’ said Fred. “We believe we’ve followed the law.”
Fred along with his wife, Candace, and residents Roy Walsh, Donald Haman and Jeff Armstrong are seeking to put the ‘Home Rule’ repeal question on the ballot in the near future.
The committee believes the current charter provides too much power to the council and needs changes. They collected 164 signatures last month.
However, some residents who signed the petition have come forward asking to have their names removed from the list, saying they did not fully understand what they were signing, Harmel said.
Fred said he has not been contacted by any resident who signed the petition claiming they did not understand the intent of the petition and hasn’t heard of any other committee member being contacted. He said he’s spent a good five to 10 minutes explaining the issue with residents when he went around and sought signatures.
Fred said it’s premature to discuss whether the committee will try to collect signatures and submit a petition again, if the petition is found to be invalid. “At this point that’s not something we’re thinking about,’ he said.
The city of Rugby adopted Home Rule in April of 1992 through a vote. It provided more latitude for city officials in transfer funds to cover deficiencies and also allowed the city to establish a sales tax to generate additional revenue.
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