The once-a-decade review of the Grandview Heights city charter is underway.

A nine-person commission has been meeting since November to examine the charter -- the municipal version of a constitution -- and will complete its work and make any recommendations for proposed revisions at the end of June.

Any proposed charter revisions or amendments would be placed on the November 2018 ballot to be decided on by voters.

Under the charter, the document must be reviewed by an appointed committee of residents every 10 years.

The process is a kind of constitutional convention for a community, said charter commission chairwoman Rebekah Hatzifotinos.

"It's a good idea to have a regular review of the charter just to make sure it's up to date" and still represents the community's standards, City Council President Greta Kearns said.

Along with Hatzifotinos, the other commission members are Brian Ball, Justin Cook, Lori Duckworth, Rosemary Kubera-Goodburn, Robert Hatta, Mark Kriynovich, Jonathan Murphy and Stefanie Osborne.

Kearns, City Attorney Joelle Khouzam, Mayor Ray DeGraw and administrative assistant Debbie Nicodemus also attend the commission's meetings.

"We're there to answer any questions the commission members might have, not to suggest or advocate for any changes to the charter," Kearns said.

The commission is reviewing the charter "top to bottom, taking it one section at a time," Hatzifotinos said.

The review is in its early stages, but thus far, there seems to be no sentiment on the commission to recommend major modifications to the charter, she said.

"We're not contemplating any substantial changes," Hatzifotinos said.

The commission's discussions have included a cursory look at Grandview's strong-mayor system of government; members found no changes were needed there, she said.

Some central Ohio communities use a weak-mayor government, in which an appointed city manager, not the elected mayor, is the head executive; instead, the mayor serves as the leader of City Council.

"I think what we'll be looking at mainly is housecleaning -- mostly making some grammatical revisions or making sure the charter is up to date" with changes in technology and society, Hatzifotinos said.

For example, one change the commission plans to make is to the section on public notification of meetings to include electronic means, such as the city's website, she said.

In the section regarding the mayor's authority to appoint someone to examine the condition of any city department or conduct of an city officer or employee, the commission has agreed to change the wording that now reads that the mayor has the power "to punish witnesses for contempt" during an investigation.

"We're recommending changing that to 'hold in contempt' because that's a more-accurate description of what the mayor would actually be doing," Hatzifotinos said. "It's just a change in wording."

Any major potential recommendations that would involve more than changing or adding a word or two will be put aside and voted on by the commission at the end of the process, she said.

Residents last voted on charter changes in 2008. Some of the changes they approved include the removal of one-year term limits for the director of finance and the city attorney; the addition of two members to the city planning commission, who must not necessarily have the required planning or architectural background of other members; and changes to the language in regards to how the charter may be amended in the future, allowing for both a City Council decision and voter-driven change through petition.

The commission has reviewed the first three sections of the charter, covering powers, the mayor and council members.

Charter-review meetings are open to the public, Hatzifotinos said.

The next meetings will be held at 7 p.m. Feb. 12 and 26 in council chambers, 1016 Grandview Ave.

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