Initiative to Change Billings City Charter - KULR-8 Television, Billings, MT

Initiative to Change Billings City Charter

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BILLINGS -

On the ballot for this year's local election is an initiative to change the Billings city charter to give authority to city boards and commissions.

The initiative came about because city council members want to fix downtown's parking problems.

"We can't do this unless we amend the charter, so we have to get this change in place," said Ed Ulledalen, Billings city councilman for Ward 4. "We've got to get this language inserted in the charter which would allow this body to have authority."

Right now, the parking advisory board's recommendations must be filtered through the city council. Ulledalen said as Billings grows, there needs to be a group that can efficiently address issues like parking meters or 10-hour parking zones for downtown employees.

"We need flexibility," he said. "We need creativity. We need new ideas. And one of the ways I think of bringing that to the table is instituting a parking commission and having more authority and the ability to make decisions much more quickly and much more responsibly to the stakeholders and to the community."

On the other hand, some are opposed to taking away power from city council members.

"Council is the organization that the people have said this is the way we like to have our city run," said Royal Johnson, a former Billings city councilman. "A lot of intelligent, very good people on the city council able to make good decisions and so forth. I don't see why you would want to take away from that."

Voters will have the final say in the change.

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