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Missing members for vote, Cottage Grove Charter Commission hangs on

The Cottage Grove Charter Commission legally had a quorum to gather last week for what was expected to be its final meeting, but it failed to secure a supermajority to vote to disband.

A three-fourths supermajority vote was needed to allow the group to vote to dissolve, but the 15-member commission only had 11 of its members present, one person short of meeting state requirements.

“It was as simple as that,” Karla Bigham, commission chair, said of the meeting’s outcome. “We literally did not have enough people here to hold a vote.”

The panel was appointed after citizens opposed to the $15 million City Hall project gathered more than 1,600 signatures on a petition calling for a charter commission. The judge-appointed commission spent more than a year researching the possibility of the city relinquishing its statutory form of government for a home-rule charter.

However, the commission eventually voted 10-3 against drafting a proposed charter, stating it was both unnecessary and undesired. After that vote in April, commission member Michael Edman made a motion to disband but it was tabled

Last week’s meeting prompted several commission members to rethink disbanding.

Commission member David Olson admitted that after the charter was struck down that he was “fatigued” and “glad this was over.” But he has since changed his mind.

“I don’t feel that fatigue now,” he said. “Now I think about it in a little different way.”

Agreeing with Olson, commission member Bill Spencer said all the time and effort expended should be taken into account.

“We spent 12 months, you know, and we decided to not adopt a charter but we did not decide to disband,” he said. “Had we voted tonight I would have voted to continue simply because we put in the time and effort and had people coming from different cities, and we had all of the research that virtually we all did."

Without a supermajority to hold the vote, the commission was not able to disband and directed to schedule their next annual meeting in November 2014. Bigham said a required annual report will be submitted to the court stating that the commission voted against crafting a charter but was not able to hold a vote to disband.

The commission is seeking a renewal of commission members’ appointments that are set to expire in March 2014.

If the appointment extensions are not approved, a move Bigham said is highly unlikely, the commission would be forced to meet in February with goal of securing a supermajority to vote to disband again.