5 things to know about the City Charter Review Commission

The city has taken a piecemeal approach to the charter for almost two decades. This year, that changes.

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The current charter is from 1948.

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The current City Charter of Richmond dates back to 1948, but it’s been almost two decades since the city took a good hard look at it. Last March, City Council adopted an ordinance to establish the City Charter Review Commission and tasked it with conducting a comprehensive analysis of the document.

Here are five things you need to know about the project.

The commission has nine members 🏙

City Council appointed the nine members of the commission. It’s chaired by Dr. Thad Williamson, a UR professor and civic activist. According to the ordinance, all members should have “substantial experience in local governmentand cannot be a current city employee.

The review will be comprehensive 🔍

History and grammar nerds, unite. The commission will be looking at everything, including outdated text and clerical errors. It’ll also evaluate potential amendments that the Mayor or City Council members suggest.

It can recommend changes 📝

Expect to see a lot of amendment suggestions to clean up language and grammar — but not just that. The ordinance specifically calls out that the commission could recommend things like staggered terms for City Council and other changes to the city’s “current form of government.”

Public participation is important 🗣

The commission hosted its first public meeting last Thursday. It plans to put several more on the agenda this spring, including monthly work sessions that will be open to the public. We’ll keep readers updated when those are scheduled.

In addition to attending meetings, Richmonders will be able to access an informational website and may be asked to complete short surveys as the review continues.

There’s a deadline 🗓

The ordinance says the group needs to sum up its final recommendations in a report to City Council by June 1. Once the final report has been submitted, City Council will have a few months to consider any changes. City Council won’t be making the changes itself — amendments will have to go to the 2024 session of the General Assembly of Virginia.

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