Upper Arlington voters will decide Nov. 6 whether to approve Issue 34 – a measure that, if passed, could affect eight areas in the city charter.
Among the proposed amendments is a change to how city council vacancies are handled, a review prompted by a 2016 Ohio Supreme Court ruling against the city's position that remaining council members could fill a council vacancy, no matter how many years were left in a term, by appointing someone annually.
The Supreme Court interpreted Upper Arlington's existing city charter to say if there are more than 18 months remaining in a term for a vacant seat, an election must be held to fill the seat.
The amendment on the ballot says remaining council members must choose someone within 60 days to fill a vacancy, or the council president will make the appointment.
Further, the amendment would require the seat to be filled by an election if there are two or more years left in the term that's been vacated.
"The commission wanted to make it so the (appointee) served at least two years before they have to run for an election," said John C. Adams, president of the Charter Review Commission. "Council felt there should be an election.
"If there's an appointed person with two or more years still remaining and this passes, they still would have to run again."
Another amendment being offered by Issue 34 would prohibit any council member or candidate for council from becoming Upper Arlington's city manager, city attorney or city clerk for two years after serving or running for the office. Currently, there is a one-year prohibition.
"We're trying to avoid any collusion between an existing city council and those positions as they come open," Adams said.
The charter amendment also includes:
* A measure that would remove an existing provision that prevents legislation passed as an emergency from being subject to referendum vote.
* A provision to remove a requirement that new council members take office at 10 a.m. the second Monday of the January following their election. Council members still would take office that day, but the 10 a.m. time limit would be removed.
* A measure that would permit council members to receive agendas for special meetings via e-mail or other electronic correspondence. Currently, city staff members are required to physically deliver special-meeting agendas to council members' homes.
* A provision that states council members cannot "directly interfere" with the work or department of any city employee, except for "inquiries or investigations." Adams said the move still would bar council members from directing city employees or staff members to conduct work, but would allow them to ask questions about work done by an employee or department.
* A measure that would remove the city's clerk of courts from the list of employees that report directly to council. The clerk of courts instead would report to the city manager.
* A provision specifically stating council can place and pass items on a consent agenda. Council has been passing items members deem minor by consent for at least 20 years, meaning one item or several items can be voted on all at once without discussion. However, the city charter doesn't specifically say this can be done. Adams said this amendment would clear up any confusion as to council's ability to use consent agendas and pass legislation by consent.
"There are not any substantial changes, which shows the strength and quality of the previous charter," council President Kip Greenhill said of Issue 34.
"The commission spent significant time in reviewing the charter and found it was serving our residents well."