Government & Politics  July 3, 2024

Loveland officials mull term limits, reducing City Council size

LOVELAND — A possible revamp to Loveland’s city charter will likely be on the agenda for the Loveland City Council study session on July 23, but council members at Tuesday night’s regular meeting were generally skeptical of Mayor Jacki Marsh’s proposal to reduce the number of seats on the elected panel.

Contending that Loveland’s eight-person City Council was two too many, Marsh proposed trimming the panel to six members, plus a mayor at large. Of the region’s other large cities, Fort Collins, Loveland’s much larger neighbor to the north, has just six council members, as does Greeley and Longmont, but Boulder has eight.

She proposed that the mayor and council members be limited to two four-year terms, and that each of the city’s four wards would be represented by just one member instead of the current two, but that two at-large members would be added, for a net loss of two seats.

She also suggested that any council member choosing to run for mayor should give up his or her council seat first to avoid the cost of an extra special election.

Marsh said she was “just trying to look at ways to get our council meetings where we actually can regularly count on ending at 10:30 (p.m.),” because meetings that extend far later result in extra paid hours for city staff members who must attend and give presentations on agenda topics. She also said ending meetings earlier could attract a larger and more diverse number of council candidates because “they might have jobs that they have to start early in the morning or they might have children at home.”

Marsh’s proposal on term limits drew generally favorable reactions from council members with the exception of Dana Foley, who noted: “Just for the record, there are term limits in every election. If the citizens don’t vote for you, you’re out.”

As for changing the council makeup, Council member Steve Olson protested that “we had a citizens commission that devoted a great deal of time and effort” to crafting a city charter “and then citizens voted to approve it.”

Council member Patrick McFall charged that long meetings were the result of poor agenda planning. “A screwup on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part or the city’s part.”

Council member Erin Black said she “actually got laughed at” over the size of Loveland’s council during meetings of municipal governments she attended. “Most only have seven members and some just have five,” she said. However, Olson said he never had heard that kind of comment when he attended Colorado Municipal League functions over the years.

Most council members leaned toward scheduling a discussion about amending the entire city charter for the July 23 study session or, at McFall’s and Olson’s suggestion, forming a new citizen charter commission instead of having the council or voters decide on individual changes to it.

“I think our citizens should be the ones making these suggestions,” said council member Andrea Samson.

A possible revamp to Loveland’s city charter will likely be on the agenda for the Loveland City Council study session on July 23.

Dallas Heltzell
With BizWest since 2012 and in Colorado since 1979, Dallas worked at the Longmont Times-Call, Colorado Springs Gazette, Denver Post and Public News Service. A Missouri native and Mizzou School of Journalism grad, Dallas started as a sports writer and outdoor columnist at the St. Charles (Mo.) Banner-News, then went to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch before fleeing the heat and humidity for the Rockies. He especially loves covering our mountain communities.
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