If a review of a city's charter can be considered a type of constitutional convention, then the revisions recommended by the Grandview Heights Charter Review Commission indicate the governmental structure of the city is sound.
"There's nothing major in what we've recommended. We're not recommending any major changes to the city's system of government," said commission chairwoman Rebekah Hatzifotinos.
In general, the recommendations are "minor housekeeping or clarifying or modernizing language," she said. "In some cases, we found typos in the charter that we suggested should be corrected."
Grandview Heights City Council is expected to approve the proposed charter amendments for the November ballot Monday, July 16, when a third reading of the ordinance will be given, council President Greta Kearns said.
"Council overall is in agreement with the set of recommendations the commission has presented," she said.
The nine-person commission reviewed each section of the charter, which was adopted in 1931 and last updated in 2008.
The charter specifies that a commission be formed every 10 years to review the document and suggest recommendations. Revisions to the charter must be approved by voters.
The commission spent time considering some fundamental questions, including whether the city's "strong-mayor" form of government is viable and whether the city should be divided into wards or if the number of seats on council should be increased.
"Right now, things are working very well in the city. And our feeling was, if it isn't broke, don't fix it," Hatzifotinos said. "The city is going through some changes with the development of the (Grandview) Yard, and maybe in 10 years once the Yard is fully developed and if population trends change, a future charter commission will determine a 'weak mayor/strong city council' or hiring a city manager to administer the city is needed. But not now."
The commission is recommending a provision regarding how state law affects the charter or legislation adopted by City Council was moved toward the top of the charter, under the "Powers" chapter.
In this case, the commission discovered the provision did not contain a typo but instead lacked a small but important word.
A provision in the original charter said "nothing contained in this charter shall be construed as limiting the power of council to enact any ordinance or resolution not in conflict with the construction of the state."
Sometime in the decades since, the word not disappeared from the charter language, Hatzifotinos said.
"At first we thought it might have been done on purpose, which may have actually made some sense as a 'home-rule' move," she said.
But a review of past charter commissions revealed that no such action was recommended or approved by voters.
"We're not sure when it was that 'not' disappeared from the charter," Hatzifotinos said.
"It probably was simply an oversight when the revised document was being 'typed up.' "
Thus, one of the charter amendments that likely will be on the Nov. 6 ballot will add "not" to that section of the charter.
Another likely will be modernizing the charter's language in a section regarding the written notice of special meetings of council.
The commission recommended the section be revised to state that the special council meetings can be called upon a written notice being submitted to "local publications." The charter currently states that the notice be submitted to "newspapers of general circulation." The commission also proposed adding language that the postings include the city's website.
One additional revision will be suggested by council, Kearns said.
In the section addressing the process by which residents can file as candidates for public office, the charter commission recommended changing the deadline for filing petitions with the Franklin County Board of Elections from 75 to 90 days before the date of the general election.
That revision would conform with changes that have been made in state law, Kearns said.
The charter also states that prospective candidates can begin collecting signatures for their petitions no earlier than 100 days before the general election.
"We realized that would only give people 10 days to collect signatures for their petitions, which isn't a realistic timeframe," Kearns said.
City Council has agreed to add a revision to allow petitions to be signed 120 days before the general election, she said.