Youngstown officials scrutinize charter proposals
By David Skolnick
City council’s legislation committee could have recommendations in a week on how many, if any, of the 17 proposed charter amendments should be on the Nov. 6 ballot.
The three committee members were joined by the four other council members at a Thursday meeting to further discuss the amendments. The proposals came from the charter-review committee, consisting of 11 members appointed by council and the mayor, after 41/2 months of work.
The legislation committee will likely meet next Thursday “to hopefully make recommendations to the full council,” said Councilman Mike Ray, D-4th, committee chairman. “We want to get as much done next Thursday and may have to meet again” before a special council meeting expected to be held the week of July 16.
Council has final say on what amendments are on the November ballot.
Joyce Kale-Pesta, director of the Mahoning County Board of Elections, told council members Thursday that in presidential elections, a number of voters cast a ballot for that top- of-the-ticket race and nothing else.
Also, ballot language needs to be written and submitted to the elections board by Aug. 8 to be in front of voters on Nov. 6.
“I want to caution you that you have a lot to do in a short period of time,” she said. “But it can be done if you put in the hard work.”
Council members said there are charter amendments they don’t favor, such as having a charter-review committee meet yearly rather than every four years (though that provision was ignored with the last committee convened about eight years ago), eliminating council president as an elected position, creating an elected job of vice mayor, and having nonpartisan elections.
Only Councilman Paul Drennen, D-5th, said he supports putting all the proposals on the ballot as long as they don’t violate any laws.
One concern was addressed Thursday by city Law Director Anthony Farris, who said all 17 proposals don’t conflict with law, except that until more details on nonpartisan elections are provided, he couldn’t give a legal analysis of that recommendation.
Farris also said Mayor Charles Sammarone didn’t support a proposal that restricts city employees to work no more than 48 hours in a seven-day week. If there is an emergency, council would have to pass a resolution to bypass that proposal.
Farris said the mayor is allowing overtime only in emergency situations, and it would “not be feasible to wait until city council can meet to approve it because of the urgency of the needed action.”
Proposals to create departments of human resources, information technology and economic development probably will be pushed back because of an ongoing study evaluating how the city government can improve its operations, Ray said.
There also are proposed charter amendments, such as requiring council’s approval on any expenditure over $10,000 from its current $25,000 amount, that can either be approved by passing an ordinance or an executive order by the mayor, Ray said.