Pickerington residents could be asked to approve several changes to the city's charter in 2009.

Pickerington residents could be asked to approve several changes to the city's charter in 2009.

Pickerington City Council's rules committee has met several times to review the charter, akin to a state's constitution, in preparation for appointing the next charter review board.

The city charter requires that a board of city residents be convened at least every 10 years to recommend changes and updates to voters. The last board was appointed by council in 1999.

Rules committee chairman Jeff Fix said he expects council to name the five- to seven-member board late this year. Any recommended changes could be before voters in the spring or fall of 2009, he said.

Fix said there was no central issue that spurred the committee to begin its reviews.

"I think it was just that a number of us, as we came into council, recognized there were some parts of the charter that were either dated or unclear and it would be wise to clean up those areas," Fix said. "It's a bunch of little stuff."

One portion of the charter Fix said needs attention is that dedicated to the role of the city manager and that person's relationship to the mayor and city council.

"The city manager is responsible to the council and yet our charter says the mayor shall supervise the manager," Fix said. "We're trying to define who is responsible for the appointment and retention of the city manager and who (he) reports to on regular basis. It doesn't make sense that (a city manager) is hired by one group and reports to another."

Right now, the charter stipulates that the mayor appoints a city manager with the approval of council. It also says that while the mayor supervises the city manager, only council can fire him or her.

"It's just really convoluted, so we are trying to make it really clear to everyone who has what role and how that process works so there isn't any confusion," Fix said.

Current Pickerington City Manager Tim Hansley said he has a good working relationship with both council and Mayor Mitch O'Brien. As a result, he said, there is little confusion about his role.

He can see, however, why some reading the charter may have questions.

"It's a little bit unique to Pickerington the way the charter is now," Hansley said. "I think that is what the rules committee is looking to clarify. If you read the words, it's kind of a mixed message as to who my boss is."

msegaloff@thisweeknews.com