The Town of Ruston could soon be the non-charter code city of Ruston.
The town council will be voting today to make Ruston a non-charter code city – a classification created by the Washington state Legislature to give broader authority to small towns. In the last census, Ruston had 749 residents.
Tonight’s vote will be the second time in recent months that the council members have voted on such a proposal. The council unanimously approved the move to a code city in June 2011, but the change never took effect because the former town clerk didn’t publish notice of the council’s action, according to town documents.
Ruston voters rejected a 2008 proposal that combined the shift to code city with a change to a council-manager form of government. The ordinance currently being considered would maintain the same council-mayor system Ruston has in place – five council members and a mayor.
Being a code city would give Ruston elected officials new powers. A reclassification, according to the Municipal Research and Services Center of Washington, would:
- Give the mayor veto power.
- Allow the adoption of the powers of initiative and referendum.
- Permit the council to require confirmation of mayoral appointments, provided no qualifications for the office have been established.
Karen Pickett, a Ruston resident, was surprised to see the issue on the council agenda. She isn’t opposed to the move to code city, but thinks there should be more citizen input.
“Something this major should be put out for a vote of the people, not done by council action,” she said.
State law does allow voters to override the council’s decision, provided that citizens file a petition with the signatures of at least 28 registered Ruston voters within 90 days of the council’s resolution being published. The town clerk is required to publish the intent to become a code city in the town newspaper within 10 days of the ordinance passing.
The council meeting is at 7 p.m. in the Mary Joyce Community Center, 5219 Shirley Street.