Municipal Code / City of Vernonia Charter
We, the people of Vernonia, Oregon, in order to avail ourselves of self-determination in municipal affairs to the fullest extent now or hereafter possible under the constitutions and laws of the United States and the State of Oregon, through this charter confer upon the City the following powers, subject it to the following restrictions, prescribe for it the following procedures and governmental structure, and repeal all previous charter provisions of the City.
Chapter I - Names and Boundaries
Section I. Title of Charter.
This charter may be referred to as the 1998 Vernonia Charter.
Section 2. Name of City.
The municipality of the City of Vernonia, Columbia County, Oregon, shall continue to be a municipal corporation with the name “City of Vernonia”.
Section 3. Boundaries.
The City includes all territory within its boundaries as they now exist or hereafter are modified pursuant to state law. The custodian of the City’s records shall keep an accurate, current description of the boundaries and make a copy of it available for public inspection in City Hall during regular City office hours.
Chapter II - Powers
Section 4. Powers of the City.
The City shall have all powers which the constitutions, statutes, and common law of the United States and of this state now or hereafter expressly or impliedly grant or allow municipalities, as fully as though this charter specifically enumerated each of those powers.
Section 5. Construction of Powers.
In this charter, no specification of a power is exclusive or restricts authority that the City would have if the power were not specified. The charter shall be liberally construed, so that the City may exercise fully all its powers possible under this charter and under United States and Oregon law. All powers are continuing unless a specific grant of power clearly indicates the contrary.
Section 6. Distribution of Powers.
Except as this charter prescribes otherwise and as the Oregon Constitution reserves municipal legislative power to the voters of the City, all powers of the City are vested in the council.
Chapter III - Form of Government
Section 7. Council.
The council consists of a mayor and four councilors nominated and elected from the City at large or, in case of one or more vacancies in the council, the council members whose offices are not vacant.
Section 8. Councilors.
The term of office of a councilor in office when this charter is adopted is the term of office for which the councilor has been elected before adoption of the charter (or is elected at the time of the adoption). At each general election after the adoption, two councilors shall be elected, each for a four-year term.
Section 9. Mayor.
The term of office of the mayor in office when this charter is adopted continues until the beginning of the first odd-numbered year after that time. At each subsequent general election, a mayor shall be elected for a two-year term.
Section 10. Terms of Office.
The term of office of an elective officer who is elected at a general election begins at the first council meeting of the year immediately after the election and continues until the successor to the office assumes the office.
Section 11. Appointive Offices.
A majority of the council may:
- (1) Create, abolish, and combine appointive City offices, and
- (2) Except as the majority prescribes otherwise, fill such offices by appointment and vacate them by removal.
Chapter IV - Council
Section 12. Rules.
The council shall prescribe rules to govern its meetings and proceedings.
Section 13. Meetings.
The council shall meet in the City regularly at least once a month at a time and place designated by council’s rules, and may meet at other times in accordance with council rules.
Section 14. Quorum.
A majority of the council constitutes a quorum for its business, but a smaller number of the council may meet and compel attendance of absent councilors as prescribed by council rules.
Section 15. Record of Proceedings.
A record of council proceeding s shall be kept and authenticated in a manner prescribed by council.
Section 16. Mayor’s Functions at Council Meetings.
- (1) When present at council meetings the mayor shall:
- (a) Preside over deliberations of the council,
- (b) Preserve order,
- (c) Enforce council rules, and
- (d) Determine the order of business under the rules.
- (2) Notwithstanding subsection (1) of this section, the mayor may temporarily cease to chair a council meeting and delegate the functions described in subsection (1) to another council member.
- (3) The mayor is a voting member of the council.
Section 17. Council President
- (1) At its first meeting after this charter takes effect and its first meeting of each odd-numbered year, the council shall appoint a president from its councilors.
- (2) Except in voting on questions before the council, the president shall function as mayor when the mayor is:
- (a) Absent from a council meeting, or
- (b) Unable to function as mayor.
Section 18. Vote Required.
Except as sections 11, 14, 20 and 31 of this charter prescribe otherwise, the express concurrence of a majority of the council members present and constituting a quorum is necessary to decide affirmatively a question before the council.
Section 19. Vacancies: Occurrence.
The office of a member of the council becomes vacant:
- (1) Upon the incumbents:
- (a) Death,
- (b) Adjudicated incompetence or
- (c) Recall from the office or
- (2) Upon declaration by the council of the vacancy in case of the incumbents:
- (a) Failure, following election or appointment to the office, to qualify for the office within ten days after the time for term of office to begin,
- (b) Absence from the city for 30 days without the council’s consent or from all meetings of the council within a 60 day period,
- (c) Ceasing to reside in the City,
- (d) Ceasing to be a qualified elector under state law
- (e) Conviction of a public offense punishable by loss of liberty, or
- (f) Resignation from the office.
Section 20. Vacancies: Filling.
A vacancy in an elective office shall be filled by appointment by a majority of the council. The appointee’s term of office runs from appointment and until expiration of the term of the predecessor who has left the office vacant. During a council member’s disability to serve on the council or during a member’s absence from the City, a majority of the other council members may by appointment fill the vacancy pro tern.
Chapter V - Powers and Duties of Officers
Section 21. Mayor.
The mayor shall appoint:
- (1) Members of committees established by council rules, and
- (2) Other persons required by the council to be so appointed.
Chapter VI - Personnel
Section 22. Qualifications.
- (1) An elective city officer shall be a qualified elector under the state constitution and shall have resided in the City during the 12 months immediately before being elected or appointed to the office. In this subsection “City” means area inside the City limits at the time of the election or appointment.
- (2) No person may be a candidate at a single election for more than one elective City Office.
- (3) An elective officer may be employed in a City position that is substantially volunteer in nature. Whether the position is so may be decided by the council.
- (4) The council is the final judge of the election and qualifications of its members.
- (5) The qualifications of appointive officers of the City are whatever the council prescribes or authorizes.
Section 23. Compensation.
The council shall prescribe the compensation of City officers. The council may prescribe a plan for reimbursing city personnel for expenses that they incur in serving the City.
Section 24. Merit System.
Subject to all collective bargaining agreements between the City and one or more groups of its employees, the council shall prescribe rules governing recruitment, selection, promotion, transfer, demotion, suspension, layoff, and dismissal of City employees, all of which shall be based on merit and fitness.
Section 25. Oath.
Before assuming City office, an officer shall take an oath or shall affirm that he or she will faithfully perform the duties of the office and support the constitution and laws of the United States and of the State of Oregon.
Chapter VII - Elections
Section 26. Regulation of Elections.
Except as this charter provides otherwise and as the council provides otherwise by ordinances relating to elections, the general laws of the State shall apply to the conduct of all City elections, recounts of the returns and contests.
Section 27. Tie Votes.
In the event of a tie vote for candidates for an elective office, the successful candidate shall be determined by a public drawing of lots in a manner prescribed by council.
Section 28. Nominations.
A person may be nominated in a manner prescribed by general ordinance to run for an elective office of the City.
Section 29. Initiative and Referendum.
Chapter VIII - Ordinances
Section 30. Ordaining Clause.
The ordaining clause of an ordinance shall be ‘The City of Vernonia ordains as follows:
Section 31. Adoption by Council.
- (1) Except as subsection (2) of this section allows adoption at a single meeting and subsection (3) of this section allows reading by title only, an ordinance shall be fully and distinctly read in open council meeting on two different days before being adopted by the council.
- (2) Except as subsection (3) of this section allows reading by title only, the council may adopt an ordinance at a single meeting by the express unanimous votes of all council members present, provided the ordinance is read first in full and then by title,
- (3) A reading of an ordinance may be by title only if:
- (a) No council member present at the reading requests that the ordinance be read in full or
- (b) At least one week before the reading:
- (i) A copy of the ordinance is provided for each council member,
- (ii) Three copies of the ordinance are available for public inspection in the office of the custodian of city records, and
- (iii) Notice of their availability is given by written notice posted at the City Hall and two other public places in the City.
- (4) An ordinance read by title only has no legal effect if it differs substantially from its terms as it was filed prior to the reading unless each section so differing is read fully and distinctly in open council meeting before the council adopts the ordinance.
- (5) Upon the adoption of an ordinance, the ayes and nays of the council members shall be entered in the record of council proceedings.
- (6) After adoption of an ordinance, the custodian of City records shall endorse it with its date of adoption or on a later day the ordinance prescribes. An ordinance adopted to meet an emergency may take effect as soon as adopted.
Section 32. Effective Date.
A nonemergency ordinance takes effect on the thirtieth day after its adoption or on a later day the ordinance prescribes. An ordinance adopted to meet an emergency may take effect as soon as adopted; as part of the ordinance the Council shall state the nature of the emergency.
Chapter IX - Public Improvements
Section 33. Procedure.
- (1) The procedure for making, altering, vacating, or abandoning a public improvement shall be governed by general ordinance or, to the extent not so governed, by applicable general laws of the State.
- (2) In this section “owner” means the record holder of legal title or, as to land being purchased under a land-sale contract that is recorded or verified in writing by the record holder of legal title, the purchaser.
Section 34. Special Assessments.
The procedure for fixing, levying, and collection special assessments against real property for public improvements or other public services shall be governed by general ordinance.
Chapter X - Miscellaneous Provisions
Miscellaneous Provisions Footnote
Section 35. Debt.
The City’s indebtedness may not exceed debt limits imposed by state law. A City officer or employee who creates or officially approves indebtedness in excess of this limitation is jointly and severally liable for the excess. A charter amendment is not required to authorize City indebtedness.
Section 36. Continuation of Ordinances.
Insofar as consistent with this charter, and until amended or repealed, all ordinances in force when the charter takes effect retain the effect they have at that time.
Section 37. Repeal.
All charter provisions adopted before this charter takes effect are hereby repealed.
Section 38. Severabilitv.
The terms of this charter are severable. If a part of the charter is held invalid, that invalidity does not affect another part of the charter, except as the logical relation between the two parts requires.
Section 39. Time of Effect.
This charter takes effect January 1, 1998.
Web Note: Footnotes are not complete at this time.