Sulphur residents will be able to vote on changes to city charter

Published 10:47 am Friday, January 13, 2023

City of Sulphur residents will be able to vote on changes to the new city charter in the next election.

In the meantime, they can attend commission meetings or submit input via email to ablanchard@sulphur.org. The city’s charter defines the powers and functions of elected officials and local government.

Tuesday, Sulphur Home Rule Charter Commissioners Danny DiPetta, Becky Venissat, Sid Rosteet, Donna Emmons and Carla Sigler got down to the nitty gritty of updating the first three sections of the eight-section document adopted in 1984, even correcting punctuation. One word change, to bring the document into the future was replacing the word apportionment with districting.

It’s the group’s second meeting.

Justin Sittig was sworn in as a new commissioner. He takes the place of the late Dennis Bergeron. Gena Granger was not at the meeting.

The charter commission was needed, according to Sulphur Mayor Mike Danahay, to bring it in line with changes to the latest state statutes and today’s language and technology.

One action from the first meeting was reconsidered. Sigler had moved that commissioners not be contacted about the charter outside public meetings.

“The intention was to ensure that everyone has the same access to commissioners, and nothing be misinterpreted,” Sigler said.

However, it occurred to her that shift workers, for example, can’t make those evening meetings. Now they can use the email.

At the Tuesday meeting, Sulphur resident Sheila Broussard asked for the city to use social media to share information about charter changes and the public’s suggestions at the commission meetings.

Dipetta, the commission chair, said that the commission’s changes would be made at the meetings but the public’s suggestions for changes would be held until the final public hearing. No definitive answer was given regarding how these suggestions would be shared with the public. However, Dipetta did request that all suggestions be submitted in writing, and said the comments would be made public.

Broussard said she forwarded the commissioners highlighted excerpts from the Guide for Charter Commissions by the National Civic League and she wanted to read one in particular aloud at the meeting. “When residents are afforded the opportunity to offer their opinions and suggestions in an environment in which ideas and input are taken seriously, residents are more likely to support the commission’s recommendations at the polls.”

Broussard has been vocal about updating the charter, asking The Council to consider holding an election for commissioners rather than appointing them.

The Council voted to appoint commissioners and Broussard continues to push for better dissemination of information to the public about what happens at the commission meetings and city council meetings.

She videos meetings and has created the Concerned Citizens of Sulphur Facebook page to post important information.

The next commission meeting will be held Jan. 13 at The City Council Chambers, currently in a temporary building in front of the old Kroger on Napoleon.