Click here to watch a video of Councilwoman Parker giving an overview of the proposed charter amendments on Facebook Live.

In summer 2022, City Council will consider eight amendments to the Charter of the City of Knoxville. If approved, the charter amendments will go before voters in November on the 2022 state/federal general election ballot. First reading of the charter amendments is set for Tuesday, June 28, 2022 at City Council's regular meeting. Click here to review the charter amendments, listed as agenda items 12D - 12K.

Background:

Following the City of Knoxville's most recent budgeting process, I spoke with city council attorney Rob Frost about forming a charter review committee to discuss potential revisions to the city budgeting process and other potential charter amendments. Unfortunately, the process would need to be developed and concluded in time for city council to vote on charter amendments by the end of July, which is necessary because of a requirement by state law that ballot initiatives are filed with the election commission 90 days preceding the election in which they will be voted on. See more here.

Alternatively, I am proposing that city council consider 2 issues pertaining to the charter this year and use our web forum to review and, if needed, discuss these proposals before they appear on our agenda. I posted these items to the web forum on June 14th and they will appear on our agenda June 28th. Read the city council forum post here.

Click on each issue below to learn more about the proposals. If you have questions or comments, please feel free to contact me directly by email at amparker@knoxvilletn.gov or by phone at 865-851-8561.

Issue 1: City Council Should Be Given More Time to Review and Potentially Amend the Budget

City Council needs more time to consider the budget between the public hearings and the final date to approve the budget. Currently, Council is required by charter to pass the budget on first reading before holding public hearings and to finally pass the budget by June 15th. In practice, this has resulted in a 2-week process from the time the budget is introduced at first reading until it is passed on second reading 2 weeks later, with public hearings held in between. Council needs more time in the budgeting process to review the budget, hear from constituents, and consider changes to the budget.

Issue 2: Tie-Breaker Process in City Council Elections Should Be Made Obsolete

In the case of a tie for the two highest vote totals in a city council election, all candidates tying for either first or second place should be allowed to move on to the regular (general) election. Currently, the charter only allows two candidates to move on to the general, forcing City Council to either hold a runoff election to break the tie or make the deciding vote themselves. However, the time between a primary and the general in a city council election does not allow time for a runoff election. Therefore, the language in the charter should be revised to allow the general to serve as the runoff in the case of a tie in the primary.

Increase Civic Engagement and Strengthen our Local Democracy

Revising our budgeting process to increase time for constituents to be heard and amending our electoral process to protect the power of voters to choose their representatives on city council are ways to increase public confidence in our local government, grow civic participation, and build a stronger local democracy.