Giving the public a chance to speak for or against any utility rate increases may top El Campo City Charter propositions when they go before voters next May.

Presented by Commissioner Robert (Bobby) Perez, a former El Campo City Councilman and Citizen of the Year, the request was to add “verbiage that requires two public hearings prior to City Council considering and/or approving a rate increase for ... water, sewer, solid waste collection, and/or Transportation User Fee,” according to city minutes.

At the review commission’s Oct. 26 session, commissioners voted 5-2 to move forward with the proposition with Commissioners Ed Erwin and Steve Ward against. Both Erwin and Ward are former city council members.

The Charter Review Commission gathers every odd-numbered year to review the City of El Campo’s governing document and recommend changes. Any proposed changes are reviewed by City Council, but must be approved by a majority of municipal voters before taking effect.

In the last Charter election, voters opted to change the way the city selects its mayor, for example. Before 2020, the members of city council decided among themselves who would hold the offices of mayor and mayor pro tem, usually choosing at-large representatives.

Proposition H on the last charter election was approved 2,496 to 822 making an immediate change. Now, the top vote-getter in the at-large race takes the mayor’s post and the second most vote-getter becomes mayor pro tem unless they decline the position.

In the 2020 at-large council member election, postponed from May to November due to the COVID-19 pandemic, incumbent Chris Barbee collected the most with 1,819 votes, followed by Eugene Bustamante with 1,756 and incumbent Philip Miller taking the third post with 1,537 votes. Both Barbee and Bustamante accepted the positions and currently serve.

This year’s Charter Review Commission composed of Karen Middlebrook, Dan Hammock, Darryl Socha, Moises Rodriguez, Perez, Ward and Erwin first met Oct. 12.

The commission named Middlebrook chairperson and Hammock vice chairperson at that first session.

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