City council members are divided about whether residency requirements for Reynoldsburg employees should be enforced or put on hold until the Ohio Supreme Court decides on their constitutionality.

City council members are divided about whether residency requirements for Reynoldsburg employees should be enforced or put on hold until the Ohio Supreme Court decides on their constitutionality.

The city's charter says the service, safety and parks and recreation directors must become Reynoldsburg residents within six months of their appointments.

Mayor Brad McCloud reported to council last week that the Ohio General Assembly passed a law in 2006 that says cities cannot make residency a requirement of employment. Lawsuits ensued over residency requirements in the city charters for Toledo, Lima and Youngstown and reached the Ohio Supreme Court in May. The court is expected to rule on the issue by the end of this year, he said.

"I want to be clear that the two employees in my administration are currently in compliance with both state statute and the city charter, but the Supreme Court is going to rule once and for all as to this issue," McCloud said.

Service-Safety Director Pam Boratyn began working for Reynoldsburg on March 24, which means her six-month deadline is up on Sept. 24. Boratyn lives in Powell and said she is not looking for a Reynoldsburg home. She said she is compliant with Ohio law and will wait to hear what the state's high court decides.

Parks and Recreation Department Director Jason Shamblin's start date was June 2, which means his deadline date is Dec. 2. He is actively looking to relocate to Reynoldsburg from Worthington. Shamblin said moving was something he and his wife planned after he was named to his position.

Council President William Hills said the issue is not a legislative matter at this time and should be put on hold until the Ohio Supreme Court makes its ruling.

"Certainly, however they rule is going to either resolidify what's in the charter or it's going to say 'hey, folks, you can't do this,'" Hills said.

Council members Antoinette Newman, Ron Stake and Donna Shirey say the city's charter should be honored until such time as the Ohio Supreme Court decides residency requirements are unconstitutional.

"It says in the city charter that they are to become residents within six months of being hired, and the charter is the charter and we need to stick with it," Shirey said. "We have rules to live by and we need to abide by those rules."

Stake said if the city is going to make a change to the charter, it needs to be done by the voters, not by the mayor and not by city council.

"There is a home rule provision that, in my opinion, prevails in this instance," Stake said. "Because of the home rule provision in the Ohio constitution, the city would prevail, not the state.

"These other cities that have brought this to the courts, they have stuck by their residency requirement in the meantime, and our mayor wants to take the authority away from the city and voters and give it to the state legislature," he said. "Based on my research when the supreme court rules on this, the residency requirement will be upheld."

Council members Doug Joseph, Fred Deskins, Leslie Kelly and Mel Clemens all side with Hills and McCloud on preferring to put the issue on hold until the supreme court rules.

Joseph said because the court has agreed to take on this issue, it should be up to the justices to hash it out and decide.

"Anything could happen. The charter could be constitutional or it might not be constitutional, and literally, it's in limbo -- anything a city might do on residency at this point is on hold," Joseph said.

Kelly said she agrees the city should wait and see what the court's decision is.

"The supreme court is going to tell us whether our charter is constitutional or not, and we're going to follow whatever way they go," Kelly said.

"We are a home rule city. Our state legislature has been trying to weaken or deprive cities of many of their rights over the last few years, and a lot of people are bitter about this," Newman said "The people voted on and adopted that charter so some of us are pretty darn convinced we should uphold it, and after all, we did swear to do that when we took our oath of office."

Clemens said he believes in the city charter and home rule government, but he agrees Reynoldsburg's charter in this instance should be put on hold until the court decides.

"I'm a charter person, but it's before the supreme court so we don't know whether we're unconstitutional or what, but I believe the service safety and parks and recreation director positions should reside in the city," Clemens said.

"The problem is, if we force them to follow our code, and they sell their house and move out here, then three months later we're told by the supreme court what we did is unconstitutional, then we've put them in a mess," he said.

City Attorney Jed Hood said he believes it is a violation of the city charter if an employee who is required to do so does not move into the city within six months. He said he has discussed possible options with council members during an executive session but refused to release details publicly.

Hood added, in his opinion, the state statute does not override the charter requirements.

"But the fact of the matter is, what the mayor says is correct: It is currently up to the supreme court and they're going to be the one's to tell us," Hood said. "Let's wait until September and talk about it then."