The village of Sunbury in the fall will mail copies of its proposed charter to about 2,310 residents who voted in the last election.

Those voters will be asked to approve the charter -- which acts as a "constitution" for cities, defining the government's roles -- in the Nov. 5 election.

The charter is needed, Sunbury officials have said, because they expect the village to become a city after the 2020 census.

By Ohio law, a village automatically becomes a city when it has 5,000 residents, a milestone Sunbury officials expect to be confirmed by the census.

The census is held every 10 years. In 2010, Sunbury had about 4,300 residents.

The U.S Census Bureau estimated the population at 5,874 last year.

Another specification of Ohio law is that when a village becomes a city, it automatically assumes a statutory form of government unless it approves a charter.

Sunbury Administrator Allen Rothermel has said city status will happen "whether we like it or not," and the proposed charter is designed to maintain Sunbury's current form of government as much as possible.

One change is that the mayor would become both the mayor and a member of the future City Council, he said.

Until now, Sunbury's mayor casts a vote during council meetings only to break a tie, he said.

A mayor who also is a council member is typical for Ohio cities with charters, such as Delaware and Powell.

By comparison, Rothermel said, Sunbury's mayor would continue to appear on the ballot as a mayoral candidate.

Also under the charter, Rothermel said, Sunbury would form a board of zoning appeals, another distinction that is routine for cities with charters.

Under Sunbury's current system, he said, board-of-zoning-appeals functions are handled by the planning and zoning commission.

The charter also is designed to give Sunbury future flexibility, Rothermel said. Sunbury could, for example, create any future commissions if it's decided they are needed.

A link to the full text of the charter is at www.sunburyohio.org.

Development of the charter was a yearlong process that began when voters approved a charter commission in 2018.

Mayor Tommy Hatfield earlier said the commission would consider public input and review all options available to Sunbury, including the statutory form of government.

City charters routinely determine the composition of City Council, legislative procedures, allocation of powers and responsibilities among municipal officials, administrative departments, personnel systems for municipal employees, boards and commissions, finance, debt limitations, elections and procedures for initiative, referendum and recall petitions.

Sunbury's charter commission members were elected last year.

They are Patti Cavinee, Cindi Cooper, John Dankovich, J. David Diehl Jr., Anne Frost, Eugene Frost, Michael League, John Maar, Steven Mazzi, Murray Neff, Jodi Norton, Randall J. Rentz, Richard A. Ryba, Daniel Sexton Jr. and Thomas H. Zalewski Sr.

editorial@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekNews