Ravenna charter review panel, council at odds

Record-Courier staff writer Published:

Half-way through the 1998 term, commission members found a discrepancy about who has the final say on their proposed changes, and they asked Frank Cimino, the city law director, to make a ruling.

While commission members think the recommendations should go directly to the voters, some city officials think that city council must approve ballot items, according to Janet Hayes, commission chairperson.

"That seems to be the hot issue between the council and the charter review commission," Hayes said. "The article says that council should submit the proposals to the voters, but some council members think the final decision is theirs."

Cimino said Saturday that his written legal interpretation of Article 18, the section of the city charter regarding the commission, will be presented at Monday's meeting.

He said city council must approve proposed amendments by a two-thirds majority vote before they reach the ballot, as mandated by the state constitution.

Hayes said the majority of the commission members believe the charter review would be a waste of time if council has the power to veto the proposals.

"That's the feeling among most of the members," Hayes said. "If council has the power to veto, then why do we even meet? Council has said several times that it is difficult to get volunteers, but why would anyone spend their time if it won't go anywhere?"

Commission member William Ferrell said the group does not want to make drastic changes.

"We are not trying to change the city of Ravenna," Ferrell said. "Clearer headings and uniformity are a few of the things we have discussed."

Hayes said the charter is working well, but it needs some fine-tuning.

"We're not just there to point something out, because there is not a whole lot to find," Hayes said. "The charter is pretty well-written, and it is working.

"What we have done as a group is look at the charter article by article to see what we need to change or not," she said. "We have found there are a few places that need cleaned up a little bit. We are looking for uniformity and consistency."

Hayes said the commission will continue with its job.

"If we feel strongly enough about the issues, we might go canvassing and circulate a petition to get it on the ballot ourselves," she said. "It will just be more complicated."

The next meeting will be held at 7 p.m. at City Hall council chambers.

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