Streetsboro voters will likely see a collection of proposed charter amendments on the Nov. 7 ballot this fall, although there have been some bumps on the road to the ballot.
City Council on Monday voted to reject the ordinance, which would have sent the issues to the ballot.
Several of the ordinances give more control to the mayor and otherwise change aspects of that position, which several on City Council said they oppose, including Councilwoman Jessica Timmons, who voted against the measure with Councilman Jeff Allen.
"I'm not in agreement with the majority of them, as written," she said. "I think there's a need for cities to maintain a checks and balances, and I think some of the amendments, as they're written, lose sight of that, at least the way I read them."
Mayor Glenn Broska said Law Director Paul Janis may need to file a mandamus action, which would force Council to place the matter on the ballot, against Council to force it to pass the ordinance and place the charter amendments before voters. There's still time to reintroduce the law and pass it in a series of special Council meetings.
Broska, who proposed all the changes to the charter, said many of them are tweaks to the full-time mayor position, which first took effect in 2008.
"This charter has remained relatively unchanged since we had a part-time mayor," he said.
Several of the proposed amendments, recommended for the ballot by the charter review commission which met earlier this year every couple weeks, place more control in the mayor's hands over hiring and firing of department heads, a power currently shared with Council.
The proposed amendments
An amendment regarding the mayor's benefits and salary would "make clear that the mayor is a full-time employee entitled to all of the employee benefits that are provided to full-time employees," according to the charter change recommendations. Currently, the mayor has no personal or sick days.
This amendment also would fix the mayor's salary at 6 percent higher than the highest salary for a department director outside the law director. The salary is currently 1 percent higher than department directors.
Since the mayor's salary is set at the beginning of a term, by the end of the term department directors often are earning slightly more than the mayor, according to Broska.
This amendment also would clarify that the mayor is a non-voting member of the planning commission, according to the recommendations.
Currently, candidates for mayor and Council must file a criminal conviction form, describing any misdemeanor theft, felony conviction or expungement.
Broska said the requirement is unnecessary, calling it "just ridiculous" to have to complete it.
"In this day and age, filling out a criminal conviction form is definitely nothing compared to what anyone can find on the internet, if they so choose," he said. "With social media, it can be blasted out there, too."
Timmons said she would prefer to see the forms remain a requirement.
"For a city official, I would think people would want to know," she said. "Unless there's a legal reason why you would want to remove it, my suggestion would be not to remove it."
Another amendment would remove the requirement for the mayor to gain a three-quarters vote of Council confirming any firing of a department head other than the fire and police chiefs. Removing that section also removes the clause tying department heads' terms of office to the mayor's term, so there wouldn't be a requirement to reappoint department heads at the end of each term.
This amendment would also eliminate the ability of Council to fire a director with a vote of six of seven without the mayor's consent.
Timmons said these amendments upset the checks and balances between Council and the mayor. She said removing Council's ability to fire department heads independently feels like a reaction to the firing of two former directors at the beginning of Broska's current term.
"I think the problem is where a lot of this comes from," she said. "I think there's too much individual history that's been brought into this, rather than saying, 'Let's remove names and look at what could be and what should be.'"
Broska said the changes are more appropriate now that a full-time mayor is established.
"The mayor is the CEO, and Council is the legislative body," he said. "To me, that's what this is doing, turning over the administration and supervision of employees to the person whose responsibility it should be."
At-large City Council candidates currently run for election in a pool in which the top three vote-getters win election. A proposed change would make each of the three seats a distinct, separate race, each with two candidates.
Currently, ordinances passed with an "emergency" clause avoid having a 30-day waiting period before taking effect and require three-quarters of the votes in their support. A proposed change would enable "emergency" ordinances to become law if supported by a simple majority, four of seven votes. Those laws would lose their "emergency" status as passed, and there would be a 30-day waiting period before they take effect.
Currently, the job requirements for a parks and recreation director include a relevant college degree and experience, according to the mayor. The change would turn the "and" to an "or," allowing a parks professional with lots of experience but no college degree to qualify, based on experience in the field.
Currently, the economic development director must have either two or seven years of "municipal economic experience." The change would remove the word "municipal" in two places so someone with substantial economic development experience in the private sector could qualify for the position.
Currently, Council has the ability to declare vacant the seat of its members and the mayor's office in cases involving felonies, crimes or moral turpitude, conflict of interest, gross misconduct, gross neglect of duty, misfeasance, malfeasance, nonfeasance in office and other conditions. The proposed amendment would remove Council's ability to declare the mayor's office vacant under those conditions. Council would retain those rights over its own members.
FB: Bob Gaetjens