I appreciate the R-E editorial of 4/17 regarding changes to the Port Authority Enabling Resolution. I haven’t done any in depth legal analysis of these changes, but two things stand out for me. First, giving the city total discretion over the levy, and two, taking away citizen rights to petition for a reverse referendum.
Assuming the City Attorney is correct in saying the City Council has the authority to make these changes, the question becomes a political issue. I don’t recall hearing the Port Board object to having its levy authority, and consequently its political independence, smothered.
One of the reasons the City adopted a Port, as opposed to an EDA, was to establish an independent political subdivision, and to the extent possible, insulate it from City politics. I understand the City has a greater stake in the Port now as it is contributing directly to the Port’s budget, but once the River Bluff properties are sold, the Port should be standing financially on its own feet. Why then absolute authority over the Port levy which the new resolution calls for. The previous resolution stated the City shall approve the Port’s levy request. State statute also says the same, however, some can argue there is ambiguity in whether the City must approved a levy request. So, why not resolve any ambiguity in favor of the original intent of the Port’s operation?
Reverse Referendum: Why remove this right, especially in these economic times. What problem is this solution fixing?
I think much more important than the Blue Ribbon Panel weighing in, is for the City Council to have an open, frank discussion of the purpose and long-term impact of these proposed changes.