A five-member Whitehall charter review commission is expected to begin its work with an organizational meeting at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 26 at Whitehall City Hall, 360 S. Yearling Road.

The five members will choose a chairman, establish a meeting schedule and begin reviewing the city charter, City Council President Jim Graham said.

A city charter is the municipal version of a constitution, defining the government's powers and responsibilities.

City Council members are expected to approve a resolution at their next regular meeting at 7 p.m. Feb. 20 officially naming the five members of the commission.

They are Kim Bentley, Allyson Sharp, Jack Soma, Kevin Skinner and Paul Werther.

Former councilman Van Gregg was selected as an alternate member.

Graham said no formal application or interview process was used in the selection of members. Instead, he simply asked other council members to suggest people who were qualified or had interest in serving on the commission.

By contrast, a Hilliard charter review commission was convened last year after city leaders solicited and received applications from 19 residents, selecting 11 members and two alternates who have 12 months to submit their recommendations.

Eight Whitehall residents were referred to him, Graham said, and five agreed to serve on the commission.

The charter requires a commission to convene at least once every five years to review the charter, Graham said.

Any changes suggested by the commission will be put to a vote in November. Such changes can range from minor updates and rewordings to major adjustments in how the city is run.

As an example of the latter, in 2013, Whitehall's charter review commission suggested an amendment to abolish term limits for the mayor, City Council members and other elected officials.

The measure failed at the polls, with 62.5 percent of those who voted rejecting the issue.

Term limits themselves were instituted via charter amendment in 1993.

Also in 2013, voters approved a change to the election cycle of the city auditor. Voters approved the measure 58 to 42 percent, according to unofficial results.

As of last year, according to the charter update, the auditor is elected every four years along with council's ward representatives.

Graham said he strived to find commission members who did not have long-standing involvement or commitments to other organizations in the city.

"I tried to get citizens who wanted a chance to become involved in their community," Graham said.

Werther, who unsuccessfully campaigned for City Council last year and in 2007, said he is approaching the appointment "with an open mind."

Werther did not identify any specific subject matter he thought the commission should address.

"I look forward to the opportunity to serve my city and will look at the charter section by section with an open mind to see what everyone thinks," Werther said.

Commission members will have up to six months after their first meeting to present their recommendations, if any, to council, Graham said.

City Council has final determination to accept any, all or none of the recommendations of the charter review commission, Graham said.

Once a decision is made, council would enact legislation to place any proposed charter amendments on the ballot for consideration by voters.

The filing deadline is Aug. 8 at the Franklin County Board of Elections for any issue to appear on the general-election ballot Nov. 6.

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