MAHONING COUNTY City council weighs three amendments for the Nov. 2 ballot

A proposal to raise council salaries to about $28,000 was forwarded to council.
YOUNGSTOWN -- Three proposed charter amendments will go before city council when it meets in special session at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, but three others haven't emerged from council's legislation committee.
One item going before council would abolish eight-year term limits for the mayor, city council president and city council members, effective Jan. 1, 2007.
A second would abolish council aide positions, which are typically held by council members' spouses or other family members, and pay their $27,800 annual salaries to the council members, who earn $600 a year. The council president's salary would rise from $900 to $28,100 annually.
The third proposed amendment would require updating the city's comprehensive plan at least every 10 years, immediately after each U.S. Census.
Will be on ballot
If council approves, the proposed amendments will go before the voters Nov. 2. Council's deadline to put charter amendments on the November ballot is Sept. 2.
Council's legislative committee had considered three other proposed amendments sent to it by the charter review commission, but the committee declined to recommend them to council this week.
The charter review commission is authorized to function through the end of this year, and City Law Director John McNally said additional amendments could be placed on next year's primary ballot.
On Monday, the committee postponed action on a proposed amendment that would give extra credit to city residents who pass civil service exams after Mayor George McKelvey told the committee the language in the proposal was ambiguous and that "more homework" on it was needed. The language was taken from a Cleveland ordinance.
Jennifer Labatte, city civil service administrator, said the proposal is flawed because it doesn't specify a minimum duration of residency to qualify for extra credit. She also said the proposal would severely limit the applicant pool for city jobs and would put current city employees at a disadvantage by making them ineligible for the extra credit.
Councilman Rufus Hudson, D-2nd, said he thinks Youngstown should enact a policy similar to that of Toledo's, which makes city residency a prerequisite for applying for a city job.
Postponed action
The committee also postponed action Monday on a proposed amendment that would require the city park and recreation commission and board of health to follow the same affirmative action policies in awarding contracts as the rest of city government because it wanted to hear comments on it from Joseph McRae, park and recreation director, and Neil Altman, health commissioner, neither of whom attended Monday's meeting.
A proposed amendment that would establish a human resources department and create the position of human resources director had earlier stalled in the committee for lack of a second.

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