Columbia City Council has given a tentative OK for holding a referendum on whether to change to a strong-mayor form of government.
Council members rejected the proposed referendum twice in the past 15 months, but an ordinance to authorize one squeaked by in a 4-to-3 vote Wednesday night after supporters delivered some 12,000 petition signatures the day before calling for the public to be able to vote.
Mayor Steve Benjamin, who supports a switch to a strong-mayor form of government, called the special meeting last night to reconsider the issue.
But just hours before council convened, there was an ordinance on the table that would hold a referendum as part of the November 5th General Election.
Those voting against – council members Tameka Isaac Devine, Leona Plaugh and Moe Baddourah – say they're concerned the referendum is being shoved down voters' throats without time to understand what's at stake.
And they question how it can head for the ballot until those petition signatures are certified.
Benjamin insists that could be done by next week and moving ahead with the ordinance now will ensure the referendum can make the November ballot and save taxpayers the cost of a special election.
Second reading of the ordinance setting the referendum is scheduled for another special council meeting on Wednesday.