The Webster Groves City Council on Jan. 7 gave first and second readings to proposals that would give the city greater flexibility in choosing a city attorney and allow residents regular opportunities to review the city charter.
A final vote on the proposals are expected on Jan. 21. Once passed, the charter amendments will appear on the April 7 ballot.
The first charter amendment eliminates the requirement that the city attorney be a resident of Webster Groves. The proposal requires that the attorney be licensed to practice law in Missouri for at least five years and to have been actively engaged in the general practice of law during the five-year period immediately prior to appointment.
Some residents contended leading up to last year’s appointment of city attorney Neil Bruntrager that the city — due to the residency law — did not have enough candidates to select from.
The second charter amendment requires that every eight years, at minimum, the city submit to voters the question of whether a charter review advisory board should be formed. The board would make recommendations to the council to revise and amend the charter.
That proposal would let voters decide whether the city’s charter, originally approved in 1954, requires changes or updates, officials said.
During public comment at Tuesday’s council meeting, resident Ron Zager said he supported the charter amendments, saying removal of the city attorney residency requirement is “a move long overdue.
“The best available candidate should not be disqualified for living in Glendale or Shrewsbury,” he said.
Zager went on to say that the charter should be regularly reviewed for issues such as electing council members from wards, or revising council member compensation.
“Let’s give the voters a chance to have their say on the contents of the charter,” Zager said.
Resident Lexie Walther O’Brien said the charter should be reviewed every eight years because “so much in daily life, our economy, society changes in a decade.”
She said the city also should review the city’s comprehensive plan, which is now “sadly lacking in contemporary vision for equity and quality of life for diverse residents.”