MILTON, Ga. — Any changes to Milton’s charter will now be made on an as-needed basis.
The City Council voted at its Feb. 17 meeting to delete a requirement that a charter commission meet on a specific timeline to discuss potential updates to the document that serves as Milton’s “constitution.”
When the city incorporated in 2006, its charter mandated that a commission be formed every five years to discuss the effectiveness of the document and any potential changes. Any proposed changes would be forwarded to the local legislative delegation, and if passed by the General Assembly, would be considered for adoption in a referendum.
However, City Attorney Ken Jarrard recently told the council at a work session that charter commissions eventually have diminishing returns, and Milton has reached that point as it approaches its 15th anniversary as a city.
Mayor Joe Lockwood suggested the document is working well for the city, and with the creation of a charter commission comes an expectation of changes, even if they aren’t warranted.
Milton officials can still form a charter commission if desired. The City Council can also make modifications and forward them to the General Assembly.
House Bill 206, sponsored by Reps. Jan Jones and Wes Cantrell, has been introduced in the General Assembly for consideration. If passed, the bill would grant Milton authority to convene a charter commission, “from time to time as they deem appropriate.”
Councilman Joe Longoria said the city should still have a “call to action” to review if convening a charter commission is warranted. He suggested adding an annual agenda item for the council to consider whether convening a charter commission is necessary, which could also prompt input from residents.
The board was in favor of the idea and directed city staff to bring the proposal up for a formal discussion at a later City Council meeting.
If a panel is formed, it will consist of five members appointed by the mayor and City Council, with a requirement that at least two members be nominated by members of the Georgia House and Senate whose district lies “wholly or partially” within Milton.
The most recent changes to Milton’s charter came in 2017. Some of those updates included allowing the city to acquire and hold conservation land and easements, paving the way for its $25 million Greenspace Bond that has preserved over 400 acres in Milton. It also included that the city’s codes be available online for free and the city could provide cultural arts “through local exploration” to showcase local artists and increase tourism.
The 2017 updates also included a provision allowing members of the City Council to vote electronically during meetings, but votes are still taken by voice.
Milton’s five-year charter commission requirement is more stringent than its neighbors which incorporated around the same time. Johns Creek’s charter required a commission be convened five years after incorporation. Sandy Springs is in the process of forming its first charter panel.