Kareem Johnson | Digital Journalist

City Council Considers Domestic Partnerships, Budget Transfers

Mayor Welsch, Councilmember Terry Crow collaborate on bill to extend domestic partnerships to residents of University City

By Kareem JohnsonEmail the author | April 26, 2011

Mayor Shelley Welsch and Councilmember Terry Crow introduced a bill to permit domestic partnerships in University City at Monday’s council meeting.

The domestic partnership ordinance would be the first of its kind in St. Louis County. The City of St. Louis has a similar domestic partnership ordinance that was passed by the Board of Alderman in 2005. At the meeting, Mayor Welsch said that she and Crow had been writing an ordinance to permit domestic partnerships in U City separately and combined forces to write bill 9114, which was given its first reading at the meeting.

“Mr. Crow and I met last week, and both discovered we were working on this bill, so we talked about it, and the bill introduced tonight is a combination of the two bills,” Welsch said.

The ordinance would allow for two unmarried adults who consider themselves to be part of each other’s immediate family and share a common residence, to go to the City Clerk’s office and for a fee of 10 dollars, will be added to the domestic partnership registry.

The ordinance states: the establishments of a registry for recognition of domestic partners will facilitate public and private employers, businesses and universities in the provision of health benefits, visitation of a patient in health care facilities, and other important recognition to a registered partner.

Margaret Johnson, a University City resident, was very happy that the domestic partnership bill was being read in council.

“My partner and I have been partners for 25 years, and we have spent a lot of money, ever 5 years creating legal rights between one another, so that we have hospital visitation rights, the kind of things married people take for granted.”

She said that the bill’s passage would make it easier for them to be recognized as domestic partners in University City. She also noted that she was happy to see Mayor Welsch and Councilmember Crow working together on something.

During the residential comments on the bill, one resident did express reservations about the wording of the bill, referring to the “relationship between two unmarried adults” and expressed concern that the bill would exclude married people. During his remarks, he reiterated that he was not in opposition to the bill, just the wording.

Also read at the council meeting was a bill that would add a section to the Charter that would create a so-called “Department of Administrative Services” which would “coordinate information technology and telecommunications projects for city departments,” according the text ofthe bill. The department aims to centralize the technological infrastructure of the city.

In public comments, a resident expressed reservations about the need of “additional overhead” of another office. The person also wondered why the departments of personnel and finance were not removed and made part of the department of administrative services, rather than create a new office that oversees those departments.

There was some controversy about Bill 9111 in the unfinished business agenda. The bill would allow the city manager to make transfers of unspent monies and transfer them within a department and then advise the council of the transfer afterward. The legislation states if the amount is over $25,000, the council would have to be notified and the council must approve the transfer through motion or resolution.

Walker cannot transfer between departments. All transfers must be reported to the city council.  No transfers are allowed over $25,000.

Several council members said they thought that it would be inappropriate for the city manager to make changes to the budget after city council approved it.

U City resident, Paulette Carr expressed concern that the city council was transferring its authority to current City Manager Lehman Walker, and reiterated the role of the city council in the budget process.

Bill 9111 passed with a roll call vote.

During the City Manager’s report, the council voted to proceed with the purchase of a Toro GM 5900 mower at cost of $73,644.07, minus the trade in value of the old mower at $7,664.07, for a total cost to the city of $66,000.00.

Liquor Licenses for the Walgreens at 530 North McKnight and 7501 Olive were passed, as well as a liquor license for the Qdoba Mexican Grill at 6625 Delmar.

In other council actions, Charlotte Tatum was sworn in to the Arts and Letters Commission, along with Daniel Wofsey who was sworn into the Land Clearance Redevelopment Authority in the City Clerk’s office.

The meeting adjourned at 8pm, after comments from the council. Councilmember Terry Crow expressed happiness that the city is bringing back a program where high school students will be able to work for several departments of the University City government.

The next city council meeting is Monday, May 9th.

 

 

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