Sunbury residents rejected a village charter plan five years ago, and council is discussing what to do differently if another charter is proposed.

Sunbury residents rejected a village charter plan five years ago, and council is discussing what to do differently if another charter is proposed.

Sunbury Village Council is discussing the possibility of drafting a charter in case the village becomes a city, which could happen in the next census.

Members agreed that more communication would be necessary for the next charter attempt. On Nov. 7, 2006, voters rejected a plan to create a 15-member commission to frame a charter.

Sunbury is a statutory village with a population of 4,389. If population increases to 5,000 by 2020, Sunbury would become a city. "If the economy recovers, I think we will hit 5,000 in five years," village administrator Dave Martin told ThisWeek.

Village solicitor David Brehm said the next census in 2020 would determine that unless the village conducts its own special census.

Brehm said it's better for a city to have a charter.

"If we're building 30 homes a year like we are now, it's going to be close," he said. While Sunbury has functioned well with its current rules, gaps exist, he said.

Brehm said that a charter commission would have a one-year commitment. A significant cost would be involved, since by law, the village is required to fund the commission. A potential consultant flat fee of $5,000 also could be included.

"It certainly is going to be five figures, I would say," Brehm said of the total cost.

Brehm said that no council members could serve on the commission since it would be another elected position.

Council member Jennifer Witt said communication was not strong when voters rejected a charter in 2006.

Council member Thomas Zalewski said another charter proposal would fall through like it did last time.

"I personally don't think a charter's going to work," he said.

"I'm going to have to disagree with you on that," Witt responded. "It's being done very methodically."

Witt said that last time "it was almost force-fed" to voters. This time around, time would be spent educating voters and getting their opinions. "I think it's going to be done the right way this time," she said.

"It's not going to happen," Zalewski responded.

Council member William Metzler also voiced his disapproval. "I have no interest in the charter system," he said.

Council member Sean Currie said it wouldn't be prudent to put the charter on the ballot in November.

Council president Tommy Hatfield also said a year isn't long enough to conduct the process.

"I'm not against this at all," he said, saying the idea possibly wouldn't appear before voters for as many as three years. He also mentioned that council would be required to educate the public.

"We're talking pick-and-shovel work," he said.

Mayor Len Weatherby said he was interested in knowing whether other villages draft charters before or after becoming cities.

In other matters:

The BST&G Fire District, serving Berkshire Township, Sunbury, Trenton Township and the village of Galena, received a $38,605 Federal Emergency Management Agency grant to purchase a heart monitor for $25,000 and emergency medical service jackets.

Council voted to change the time that alcohol will be served at Sunbury Sizzle and Sounds, a food and music festival set to happen from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Aug. 27 at the village square. Council changed the hours from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. so beer sales end at least a half hour before the end of the event.

Zalewski voted against the adjustment, telling ThisWeek that he is "totally against" serving alcohol in the first place. Zalewski also voted against allowing Weatherby to sign a permit allowing the sale of draft beer in a restricted area at the event.

Martin said he and Weatherby will meet with AEP community affairs manager Tim Wells to discuss how a new transmission substation in Trenton Township just east of the village would affect electricity delivery to Sunbury.

Martin said the substation might reduce outages.