El Paso voters on Saturday approved five of the 10 City Charter amendments placed on the ballot by city officials.
An 11th proposition on the ballot submitted by residents, the Climate Charter, was defeated soundly.
Among the proposed amendments that received voter approval is Proposition I, which means retired police and firefighters may be able to get higher pension contributions from El Paso taxpayers.
“We were hoping that it was going to turn out this way, but to see the numbers, it was a little bit of a sigh of relief,” said Tyler Grossman, the El Paso Police and Fire Pension Fund executive director and chief investment officer. “I’m happy and thankful that the voters voted to support the fire and police.”
The charter amendment received 59% of votes in favor of removing the cap to the city’s contribution to the El Paso Police and Fire Pension Fund. The change to the City Charter means the city will contribute no less than 18% of the total amount it expends on wages for the fund participants. Previously, 18% was the maximum contribution allowed.
With the amendment, the city does not have to seek voter approval to increase its contribution rate.
Proposition J, which seeks to remove the city manager’s authority over the internal auditor, has also passed with 56% of voters approving.
The charter amendment will have the chief internal auditor report directly to the City Council, with direct oversight from the chair of the Financial Oversight and Audit Committee. City Rep. Brian Kennedy, who proposed the charter amendment, serves as FOAC chair. The FOAC is made up of the chief internal auditor, the city manager and four members of the City Council approved by the council itself.
Currently, the auditor reports to the city manager, who has the power to hire and fire the auditor with the approval of the City Council. With the change, the city manager will now only oversee the implementation of any audit recommendations requested by the council based on audit findings.
Charter amendments that would allow city representatives to appoint and remove their district office staff; allow 40-year leases of city-owned property; and made it easier for residents to place items on the ballot by petition all failed.
Voters approved propositions aimed at allowing the mayor and City Council to reschedule and cancel meetings, as well as the amendment to remove obsolete references from the charter.