There is a ballot battle being waged in East Lansing, Michigan. An old charter provision requires 60% voter approval before the city can sell property valued at greater than $4/resident. Todd Heywood has written a concise rundown of the issue here.
From Todd’s article:
In 1944, the City of East Lansing formally adopted its charter, bringing it into compliance with a state law that required a supermajority to sell property (which it was required to follow anyway). In 1948, the state repealed this requirement. The city did not move to amend the charter.
He’s referencing this provision of the East Lansing Charter:
4.8. – Restriction on Powers of the Council.
a.The Council shall not have the power to contract with or give any official position to any person who is in default to the City, except any contract to cure the default.
b.The Council shall not have the power to sell any real property of a value in excess of four dollars ($4.00) per capita according to the last preceding U.S. Census, or any parkland, or a cemetery, or any property bordering on water, or vacate any street or public place leading to a waterfront, or engage in any business enterprise requiring an investment of money in excess of ten cents (10¢) per capita, unless approved by three fifths (3/5) of the electors voting at any general or special election.
c.Except as otherwise provided in this Charter, no ordinance or resolution shall be adopted or passed except by the affirmative vote of at least three (3) members of the Council.
d.There shall be no standing committees of the Council.
On May 5, 2015 voters will get to decide this question:
“Shall Section 4.8 of the East Lansing Charter be amended to change the requirement for voter approval to sell certain real property from a three fifths (3/5) majority vote of the electors to a simple majority vote of the electors and add an annual inflation adjustment, tied to the consumer price index, to the current four dollar ($4.00) per capita dollar limitation to sell real property?”
I am curious how many additional Michigan home rule cities include this 3/5ths provision in their charters.
Update: May 6, 2015
The passing of Prop 2 will allow the City Council to sell property with a simple majority vote from citizens.
Mayor Nathan Triplett has strongly endorsed the passing of the local Prop 2 so City Council can proceed with selling blighted property, but as of 10 p.m. Tuesday, results are too close to call with 53 percent of voters in favor of the East Lansing charter amendment proposal. Nine more precincts have yet to report results.
He previously told The State News Editorial Board that East Lansing is one of only three cities in the state that requires a supermajority to sell land. All other cities require a 50 percent-plus-one majority.
In November, Fifty-seven percent of voters approved the city’s proposed sale of the blighted Park District area to DTN Management Co.
However, because of the current 60 percent voter approval requirement, the sale could not go through.