The Canal Winchester Times

Members ponder changes to council committees


All members of Canal Winchester City Council would sit on all committees under the terms of a change proposed by the rules committee at its March 31 meeting.

Currently, most council committees include three members each, appointed by the council president. All seven council members sit on the rules committee.

By making this change, council members believe items brought before the full council through the committee meetings will only need to be discussed once, instead of rehashing what was already talked about in the individual committee sessions.

Councilman Will Bennett, chairman of the rules committee, said the change also would avoid potential legal issues.

"I've heard arguments that when you have three members on a committee, like we do now, that having a one-on-one (meeting) between two of those three members could be construed as a non-public meeting, which isn't legal," Bennett said.

Councilwoman Bobbie Mershon originally suggested the change, saying she would like Canal Winchester to run committee meetings the way Groveport currently does, with the full council sitting on each committee.

Mershon said she discussed the practice with Groveport City Administrator Marsha Hall.

"She said they made the change because people were concerned about what they'd missed by not being at the meeting. And besides, we're pretty much all here during the committee meetings all the time anyhow," Mershon said.

Bennett also suggested that the economic and community development committee and the finance committee meet together so all economic, development and financial issues can be dealt with in a single meeting, to be held prior to the first city council meeting of the month.

"The point is to streamline those meetings into one instead of having it broken up," he said.

Under his proposal, the service and safety committees would also meet together, with that session taking place ahead of the second city council meeting of the month.

"I think we should have someone else run the committee meetings as opposed to having the council president preside over the committee meetings as well as the council meeting itself," council President Rick Deeds said.

Since Deeds also is chairman of the finance and the economic and community development committees, his participation in discussion is restricted, because the chairman is expected to serve as an impartial mediator.

The rules committee agreed it would be beneficial to have a diversity of chairmen, possibly even rotating who leads a committee meeting each month.

The full council is expected to hear the first reading of an ordinance authorizing the proposed changes April 21.