The Albany City Council wants to find out just how many votes it would take to approve a debt-limiting initiative that appears on the March 12 ballot.
Measure 22-117 promoted by Tom Cordier seeks to limit city debt without voter approval by amending the city charter.
Last December, City Attorney Jim Delapoer reiterated to the council that the debt-limiting measure contains a provision that states, “No new debt or debt extensions requested by the city council after 28 February 2012 shall be allowed without approval of a majority of Albany city electors in a primary, special or general election.”
At issue is the term “electors” and whether it refers to the entire electorate or just those who vote.
Delapoer has told the council he believes that for Measure 22-117 to pass it must be approved by a majority of those people in Albany who are registered to vote and not by a majority of people who actually send in their ballots.
To determine which is correct, Delapoer will ask that the council at its meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 9, direct him to initiate action in Linn County Circuit Court to get a judge’s determination concerning the vote required to pass the measure if the measure passes by a simple rather than an absolute majority.
The council, which has numerous items on that agenda, meets at 7:15 p.m. in the council chambers at city hall, 333 Broadalbin St. S.W.
According to Delapoer, Oregon’s constitution requires that when a measure proposes a requirement for more than a simple majority vote to approve a change in law or government action, that measure becomes law only if it is approved by the same majority.
“Therefore, if Measure 22-117 requires a majority of individuals qualified to vote rather than a majority of individuals who actually vote to approve new debt, it would appear that a majority of Albany electors, as opposed to just voters, will be required to make it effective,” he said.
Cordier contends that passage of his measure would require only a “yes” majority of the people who vote.
Historically, March elections are for special districts, such as water and fire, and to elect school and community college board members.
It won’t be determined until later how much it will cost the city for Cordier’s measures to appear on the ballot. The amount depends on a formula that includes the number of candidates on the ballot, the number of measures put on by agencies and the number of registered voters within the jurisdictions appearing on the ballot.
The cost is divided proportionately.