Citizens interested in changing the city's form of government from council-mayor to commission-mayor won't be able to take the easy street in the process.
At Tuesday's council meeting, members voted 3 to 2 against calling for a special election without first getting a petition signed by 10 percent of Provo voters who cast a ballot in the 1988 election.The citizens group must now collect 2,461 names before a special election is held. With such a petition, citizens can bypass the council and put the ordinance changing the form of government directly to the people in an election.
Council members Ben Porter and Stan Brown favored bypassing the initiative process while Council members Ron Last, Gordon Bullock and Steve Clark voted against it and favored seeing a petition first.
"Let the people decide," Porter said. "I would hate to think this body would be opposing it and then have it shoved down our throat a few months later."
But Bullock said a petition would be a broader indicator of what the people want. He said he had contacted 45 to 50 people about the change and didn't sense they were dissatisfied with the current form of government.
Clark said he did not receive one call urging him to vote for a special election.
Gary Ellis, former city attorney for Provo representing the group, said they request the change because the commission form of government is less expensive and the decision-making process is more difficult.
"We believe it (commission) is more fitting for the size of Provo. It is simpler and cheaper. All budgets have gone sky high since the change."
Ellis displayed a chart showing that budgets in numerous city departments had tripled when the change took place in 1982, but Chet Waggener, the city's chief administrative officer said, "That clearly did not occur."
"It is unfortunate these figures are being presented. They are grossly incorrect."
Waggener said the budgets cannot be compared unless individual figures are used because the commission was not using national budgeting and accounting standards at the time. The difference in format is the reason for discrepancy in information, he said.
Provo changed to the council-mayor form of government effective Jan. 1, 1982, after residents voted in 1981 to abandon the City Commission form of government.