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Proposed Charter amendment to create five wards is still alive

Published: Thu, August 21, 2014 @ 12:05 a.m.

No action taken on charter amendment to reduce number to 5



By William K. Alcorn



Youngstown City Council unanimously approved legislation reconfiguring the seven wards in the city, but failed to take emergency action on a charter amendment proposing to reduce the number of wards to five.

Council met in special session Wednesday.

Under the seven-ward plan, the population in each ward would be relatively equal. The new map has each ward’s population ranging from 8,949 to 9,534. The population in the wards under the old map ranged from 7,227 to 12,130.

The new map will be in place for the 2015 council races and take effect after that year’s election.

Proponents of the five-ward charter amendment are Councilmen Paul Drennen, D-5th, and Mike Ray, D-4th.

“You can’t ask other departments to cut back if council doesn’t,” said Drennen, a member of the committee that submitted about 1,700 signatures Monday to get the measure on the November ballot.

Drennen said that if the five-ward issue gets on the ballot, he is confident voters would approve it.

Annie Gillam, D-1st, one of three members of council who voted against moving on the proposed five-ward amendment at Wednesday’s meeting, said the petition for the charter amendment has to be on public view in council chambers for 10 days and then go to the Mahoning County Board of Elections for signature validation before council acts on the proposal.

There is enough time to follow the process and call a special meeting to vote on the matter before the Sept. 5 deadline for filing a charter amendment, Gillam said.

Council President Charles Sammarone said even though he does not support the five-ward charter amendment, he does agree the issue should be brought to the voters.

The vote to suspend council’s rules and act on the charter amendment proposal would have required six affirmative votes. The vote was 3-3: with Gillam, Nathanial Pinkard, D-3rd, and Janet Tarpley, D-6th, against; and Ray, Drennen and John R. Swierz, D-7th, in favor. Councilman T.J. Rodgers, D-2nd, was absent.

Another controversial proposed ordinance that would create the position of coordinator of downtown events and citywide projects was not approved as an emergency by council and was instead moved on to a second reading.

The ordinance proposal that the $41,124-a-year job be under the jurisdiction of the mayor’s office rather than council generated considerable debate during the finance committee meeting before the full council meeting.

Gillam argued that city ordinance places the events coordinator under the auspices of council, while Law Director Martin Hume said it is his opinion that the mayor has the authority through the city charter to fill the position.

Tarpley, chairwoman of the finance committee, said she disagreed with Hume and said she wants an outside opinion from the state attorney general before the issue is approved.

In other action, council approved a tentative agreement between the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 2312 and the city that calls for pay increases of 1 percent the first year, 1.5 percent the second year and 1 percent the third year.

Annual salaries range from $26,187 for an entry-level park laborer to $54,578 for a housing finance specialist, according to Vindicator files.

Local 2312’s membership, which includes about 90 clerks, secretaries, aides and inspectors, previously ratified the contract.


1cardinal(25 comments)posted 3 weeks, 6 days ago

"Department?", is city council a "department"?

City council is the citizen's voice in government ... the citizen's control of government.

The Connecticut Western Reserve was set into 5-mile townships(while others were doing 6-mile townships), in order for the citizens to have greater control/representation, especially more local control. It was contemplated to set 7-mile townships, but 7-mile townships meant LESS representation ... it was scrapped.

I'm all for saving money, but I'm also for the citizens having the best, most "local" representation possible.

Seven to five wards, means less representation for more citizens ... less "say", in government.

Suggest removal:

2dd933(229 comments)posted 3 weeks, 6 days ago

Those five mile townships were established in the late 18th century when it took half a day to travel five miles. It's now the 21st century and we zoom around at 60+ mph and have phones in our pockets. If 7 wards were good enough when we had 150.000 people in the city then 5 wards should be more than effective when we have a population of 60.000.

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3DwightK(1256 comments)posted 3 weeks, 6 days ago

I'm guessing two councilors don't want to lose their jobs.

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4valleypoboy(106 comments)posted 3 weeks, 6 days ago

That argument for local doesn't hold water. When Ytown had more people, there were still the same number of wards. The only logical formula is based on population, not geography.

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5goodoldboystown(14 comments)posted 3 weeks, 6 days ago

So council does not want to work harder for their pay yet they have departments working with skeleton staffs. If the city employees are working harder with less why can't council work harder? How hard is it to show up to a meeting? They pass the buck to the city employees to do all of the work any way. As far as representation goes, if residents feel that having a council representative is a more valuable use of their money maybe they should check the credentials of the people they pay. The people who council passes the work to are the city employees. Without them, the work will not get done.

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