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Chickamauga Council agrees to consider charter

It has served the city for nearly a century, but the Chickamauga City Council has agreed that the time has come to rewrite the city’s charter.

During the Council’s November meeting Mayor Ray Crowder expressed concerns about the necessity and potential expense of preparing a new charter.

Crowder, a lifelong resident of the town, said he has served 28 years as mayor, been a councilman, a volunteer firefighter and member of the school board.

“No one has ever had a problem with our charter,” he said and suggested that the current charter, while showing its age, just needed minor revisions.

Councilman Jim Staub said piecemeal revisions made since it was adopted in 1913 have led to conflicts and confusion in the charter’s language and application. His suggestion to the Council was that it was not necessary to change the city’s form of government but that its charter needed modernization.

Staub also offered his view that the Council should seek professional advice, either from the city’s attorney or from the Georgia Municipal Association, rather than try to craft a document that would meet current standards themselves.

Crowder said he felt hiring an attorney was unnecessary, that the Council’s members could suggest what they felt needed revision and save thousands in legal fees. Staub said GMA models could serve as guides in making coherent what is currently disjointed and hiring an attorney to draft a final version should not be terribly expensive.

Daymon Garrett asked about the possibility of using the GMA models and having state attorneys oversee the process.

Whatever is decided about bringing the charter up to 21st century standards, legislators must give their approval during the 2013 legislative session before a new charter becomes law.

City Manager John Culpepper said he would ask City Attorney James Bisson to advise the council members and mayor why he feels changes are needed.

The Council decided to await Bisson’s counsel and will again address the matter during the regularly scheduled December council meeting.

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