City Charter Amendments 2016

Mayor

Madeline Rogero
mayor@knoxvilletn.gov
(865) 215-2040

400 Main St., Room 691
Knoxville, TN 37902

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What is on the next election ballot?

View the November 8, 2016 Ballot [PDF]

Proposed November 2016 City Charter Amendments
Here’s a summary of the four proposed amendments to the Knoxville City Charter that will appear on the ballot on Nov. 8, 2016.

Three of the proposals involve changes to the City employee pension system. They were proposed by the Pension Board and supported by Mayor Madeline Rogero, who’s a member of the Pension Board. None of the changes would increase any retiree benefits, so there’s no public expense associated with any of the proposals.

A fourth proposal – requested by the Knox County Administrator of Elections – calls for moving the date of City primary elections from the last Tuesday in September in odd-numbered years to the last Tuesday in August in odd-numbered years.

City Council gave final approval at its Aug. 2 meeting for the four charter amendments to appear on the November ballot.

Below is a summary of each proposed amendment – the ballot language, a simple description of what the proposal would do, and an explanation of why Mayor Rogero supports the amendment.
AMENDMENT 1  |  AMENDMENT 2  |  AMENDMENT 3  |  AMENDMENT 4




City Charter Amendment 1PROPOSED CHARTER AMENDMENT No. 1:
CHANGING THE DATE OF THE CITY’S PRIMARY ELECTION


The ballot question:

SHALL ARTICLE VII, SECTION 702(A) OF THE CHARTER OF THE CITY OF KNOXVILLE, ENTITLED “TIME AND PLACE OF ELECTIONS,” BE AMENDED SO AS TO CHANGE THE DATE OF THE PRIMARY ELECTION FOR THE OFFICES OF MAYOR, MUNICIPAL JUDGE AND MEMBERS OF THE CITY COUNCIL FROM THE LAST TUESDAY IN SEPTEMBER IN ODD NUMBERED YEARS TO THE LAST TUESDAY IN AUGUST IN ODD NUMBERED YEARS, ALL AS MORE FULLY SET FORTH IN ORDINANCE No. O-125-2016 OF THE CITY OF KNOXVILLE AS DULY PUBLISHED?

What it does:

Moving up the City’s primary election by a month will allow enough time for Knox County election workers to prepare and mail the ballots for the November general election in an organized and timely manner.

Knox County Administrator of Elections Clifford A. Rodgers requested a longer period of time between the two elections, saying the current six-week turnaround has proven difficult. A five-week period in 2015 was “beyond problematic,” Rodgers said.

In theory, the November ballot shouldn’t be prepared and mailed until after the September primary results have been certified by the Election Commission. In theory, the provisional ballot counting board should count all legal ballots in the primary election before mailing the ballots to the military and overseas voters for the November general election.

However, in 2015, in order to comply with the non-negotiable 30-day deadline to mail ballots to military and overseas voters, the November ballot had to be prepared and mailed before the primary results were certified or the provisional ballots counted. If a general election ballot change had been required because of the outcome of any primary races which were still be counted, then the City would have been responsible for the additional expense in mailing a second – and corrected – ballot to military and overseas voters.

The current primary election schedule also creates operational difficulties for the Election Commission because voting machine tests are required following certification of the primary election and before the early voting period for the regular election begins.

In 2015, the voting machines had to be programmed for the general election before the primary election had been certified, subjecting the Election Commission to reprogramming them – at the City’s expense – if the primary election results were changed after all provisional ballots were counted. Moreover, another public machine test would have to be conducted, thereby potentially jeopardizing the start of early voting 20 days before the date of the general election.

Why Mayor Rogero supports this:

Changing the date of the primary from the last Tuesday in September to the last Tuesday in August will help election officials in managing a smooth transition from the City’s primary to the general. The change would have no additional cost and could potentially save taxpayer money by avoiding preparation of any amended ballots and any reprogramming of the voting machines.




City Charter Amendment 2PROPOSED CHARTER AMENDMENT No. 2:
QUALIFIED DOMESTIC RELATIONS ORDERS and MILITARY SERVICE


The ballot question:

SHALL ARTICLE XIII OF THE CITY OF KNOXVILLE CHARTER, ENTITLED “PENSIONS,” BE AMENDED TO PROVIDE FOR PAYMENTS TO AN ALTERNATE PAYEE PURSUANT TO A QUALIFIED DOMESTIC RELATIONS ORDER IN ACCORDANCE WITH A CHANGE IN STATE LAW AND TO BRING THE PROVISIONS OF THE SYSTEM RELATED TO MILITARY SERVICE IN FULL COMPLIANCE WITH FEDERAL LAW, ALL AS MORE FULLY SET FORTH IN ORDINANCE NO. O-126-2016 OF THE CITY OF KNOXVILLE AS DULY PUBLISHED?

What it does:

This amendment makes it easier for divorced parties to equally divide their marital properties.

If approved by voters, the Pension Board would be able to make payments directly to a former spouse or child, known as an “alternate payee,” pursuant to a “qualified domestic relations order” (QDRO) issued in a divorce or domestic relations proceeding after July 1, 2015, as required by recent changes in state law.

The Pension Board also would be allowed to divide a benefit following the death of a member prior to retirement and make payments to both an alternate payee under a QDRO and a death beneficiary.

Additionally, some necessary wording changes that were not addressed in 2014 Charter amendments have been made to the military service section of the Charter to be in compliance with federal law for Plan C members.

Why Mayor Rogero supports this:

Changes in state law allow Pension Boards to administer payments of benefits to “alternate payees” following divorces or domestic relations proceedings. This brings clarity in paying benefits in these situations.

Also, “housekeeping” language brings the Charter fully in compliance with federal law regarding employees in Plan C.

There is no taxpayer cost or added pension benefit associated with these pension system updates.




City Charter Amendment 3PROPOSED CHARTER AMENDMENT No. 3:
DEATH AND DISABILITY BENEFITS


The ballot question:

SHALL ARTICLE XIII OF THE CITY OF KNOXVILLE CHARTER, ENTITLED “PENSIONS,” BE AMENDED TO REVISE THE DEFAULT DEATH BENEFIT PROVISIONS AND TO CLARIFY DISABILITY BENEFITS, ALL AS MORE FULLY SET FORTH IN ORDINANCE NO. O-127-2016 OF THE CITY OF KNOXVILLE AS DULY PUBLISHED?

What it does:

This Charter change covers several “housekeeping” matters – for instance, clarifying the default death benefit for the family of an employee who dies before retirement without having finalized certain beneficiary paperwork. After a 2014 Charter amendment, joint and survivor annuity beneficiaries are restricted to spouses, so this default benefit no longer functions as intended for unmarried individuals, for example. This amendment would change the default death benefit in these cases to a 10-year certain and life annuity.

Another provision of the amendment would plainly state that no one could murder someone and then remain eligible to collect their pension benefits.

Another part of this Charter change would clarify that for former firefighters or police officers to be eligible for disability benefits for injuries sustained NOT in the line of duty, the disabled person must make the claim while still employed with the City. Similar language exists for other City employees.

The amendment also would add language revoking the designation of a spouse as a beneficiary of a pre-retirement option upon divorce, unless the designation by the member is made after the member’s divorce.

Why Mayor Rogero supports this:

These are common-sense “housekeeping” changes that will address unusual circumstances – providing options for paying default death benefits if an unmarried employee dies before retirement without having completed a pre-retirement option form, for example, or preventing the possibility of a criminal collecting benefits after a murder. There is no taxpayer cost or added pension benefit associated with these pension system updates.




City Charter Amendment 4PROPOSED CHARTER AMENDMENT No. 4:
SUPPLEMENTAL PLAN PROVISIONS


The ballot question:

SHALL ARTICLE XIII OF THE CITY OF KNOXVILLE CHARTER, ENTITLED “PENSIONS,” BE AMENDED TO REVISE THE PROVISIONS RELATED TO ADOPTION OF SUPPLEMENTAL PLAN PROVISIONS SO AS TO PERMIT ADOPTION OF SUPPLEMENTAL PLAN PROVISIONS AS NECESSARY TO COMPLY WITH STATE OR FEDERAL LAW, ALL AS MORE FULLY SET FORTH IN ORDINANCE NO. O-128-2016 OF THE CITY OF KNOXVILLE AS DULY PUBLISHED?

What it does:

The Charter currently allows the adoption of Supplemental Plan Provisions (SPPs) when necessary to amend the pension system to comply with IRS requirements for qualified plans. This ordinance modifies the Charter provisions to also allow adoption of SPPs where required to comply with state or federal law.

Additionally, the ordinance allows the Pension Board, rather than just the Mayor, to recommend SPPs to City Council.

Why Mayor Rogero supports this:

This amendment also amounts to legal “housekeeping.” There is no taxpayer cost or added pension benefit associated with the changes in this amendment. It is critically important that no technical provision of a pension plan result in changing the plan’s tax-exempt status with the IRS. This amendment allows for adoption of SPPs to comply with state or federal law and allows the Pension Board to recommend such changes to City Council.