Second petition would require voter OK on $2 million projects in Janesville

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Marcia Nelesen
Thursday, June 5, 2014

JANESVILLE--The organizer of a petition drive who hoped to force the Janesville City Council to rescind a recent decision to build a $9 million fire station will now distribute a second petition to force a binding referendum for any capital project exceeding $2 million.

Bill McCoy last week told council members he would distribute a petition for direct legislation to force the council to rescind its vote on the fire station.

City Attorney Wald Klimczyk earlier this week said the petition was void because it attempted to reverse a decision of the council, which is not proper under state statutes.

McCoy has now created a second petition to include a resolution that would require the city to seek voter permission through referendum for any capital or other construction project exceeding $2 million.

An attorney for the Wisconsin League of Municipalities said this morning he did not believe the word “resolution” is adequate on a petition for direct legislation. Curtis Witynski said the petition probably should call for the creation of or amendment to a charter ordinance.

Any ruling, though, would have to come from the city attorney, he stressed.

The Gazette was not able to reach Klimczyk on Thursday for an opinion on McCoy's second petition.

When McCoy was contacted about the wording, he said he would amend it to include the words “charter ordinance.”

McCoy has 60 days to gather 3,165 signatures to file a direct petition for legislation, which is 15 percent of the number of residents who voted in the last election for governor.

If the petition is found to be valid, the clerk will forward it to the council, which must either abide by the petition request or place the petition request as a referendum question during the next general election, which is in November.

McCoy on Thursday said he would distribute both petitions, which he would then present to the council. McCoy said he knows at least one is invalid, but the council can consider each on its own merits.

“I hope we get a whole bunch of signatures for each one of them,” McCoy said.

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