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A court rejects a charter amendment similar to one in Youngstown giving bonus points to city residents

Published: Mon, December 16, 2013 @ 12:05 a.m.

Bonus points for residency prohibited in 8th District

By David Skolnick



A court of appeals decision rejecting a Cleveland charter amendment awarding bonus points to city residents on civil- service promotional exams doesn’t impact a similar Youngstown charter amendment — yet.

Cleveland is considering an appeal to the Ohio Supreme Court.

If the state’s highest court upholds rulings from the 8th District Court of Appeals and a Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court, it would ban cities, including Youngstown, from giving bonus points to city residents on civil-service tests. Such a decision is likely years away.

“It will be a while down the road,” said Youngstown Law Director Anthony Farris. “This ruling doesn’t have a binding effect on Youngstown” because the 8th District Court doesn’t have jurisdiction over Youngstown.

In the Nov. 8, 2011, election, Youngstown voters overwhelmingly approved a charter amendment giving city residents a 15 percent bonus to their overall civil-service scores.

“We are firmly in support of the people who voted for that charter amendment,” Farris said.

Cleveland voters approved a charter amendment March 6, 2012, that is more restrictive than the one in Youngstown. The Cleveland amendment gives city residents an extra five points on only promotional exams.

The amendment was challenged by Cleveland’s firefighters union two weeks after voters approved it. The union contends the amendment violates the Ohio Constitution. The Supreme Court had previously ruled the Ohio Constitution required “merit and fitness,” when possible, on civil-service tests and doesn’t address residency. A Cuyahoga County judge agreed with the union, and the court of appeals upheld that decision Thursday.

After the Supreme Court ruled in June 2009 that a law passed in 2006 by the state Legislature that removed the power of municipalities to require its employees to live in its borders, some cities, including Youngstown and Cleveland, asked voters to approve charter amendments to give bonus points to city residents. Employees must live in the home county of the city or village for which they work or a contiguous county, the Supreme Court decision from 2009 states.

Farris said he disagreed with the 8th Court of Appeals ruling because the state law, approved by the Supreme Court, only “dealt with residency requirements and not with civil-service test bonus points.”

In the 8th District’s 3-0 decision, Judge Eileen A. Gallagher wrote: “A scoring preference on a competitive civil-service exam is valid only if it is allied to appropriate qualifications. We see no reason why a candidate’s knowledge of the needs and expectations of the residents of the city cannot be ascertained competitively. Nor do we see a valid relationship between the preference points awarded by charter [amendment] and the merit and fitness of a promotional candidate.”

The state Supreme Court has previously found it constitutional to award an additional credit of 20 percent to the score of honorably discharged military veterans taking civil-service tests.


1JoeFromHubbard(1369 comments)posted 1 year, 5 months ago


You have a far more valid point than location of residency if points have to be given for non-associated qualifications.

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2One_Who_Stayed(237 comments)posted 1 year, 5 months ago

So - JoeFromHubbard, lets say the you live in Hubbard and you get a job with the Parks Department in the city of Youngstown.

Along comes the state of Ohio and they have grant money available for a new park. Both the city of Hubbard and city of Youngstown are vying for it and obviously, the parks departments of those respective cities are in charge of applying for and justifying why it is that each city should get this money more than the other.

Are you telling me that, as a member of the parks department in Youngstown you are going to give it your best possible effort to make sure that the city of Youngstown gets the park money rather than getting a brand new park in your own back-yard city of Hubbard?

The answer is "of course you wouldn't".

Employment residency is a necessity. If the city of Youngstown is not good enough for you to live in, you should get a job in Hubbard instead. Either way - you should have to directly live with the situation you create while doing your job. This is why residents of this city voted for this amendment. All these suburbanites are just fine coming into Youngstown to work and extract money, but it's a terrible dangerous place otherwise and they want nothing to do with it.

Cool - stay in your own little suburb and work there where you feel safe instead.

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3southsidedave(5049 comments)posted 1 year, 5 months ago

Just take the test and the most qualified person gets the job...

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4JoeFromHubbard(1369 comments)posted 1 year, 5 months ago

southsidedave is correct, the most qualified should get the job.

One_Who_Stayed, I would be loyal to my employer and help Youngstown secure the funding. Any other course of action would be wrong. Your proposition is possible but highly unlikely thus it is of no concern to me.

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5One_Who_Stayed(237 comments)posted 1 year, 5 months ago

Yes, any other course of action would be wrong, and God knows, people in public service jobs never do anything that's wrong. So because you say it's "Highly Unlikely" there should be no controls to make sure that it "Doesn't Happen".

OK Joe - we'll just trust ya. . . . . not.

What's of concern to me is what's best for Youngstown (and by extension - me and my family who live here). This is why residency needs to be a requirement.

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