Removal of the residency requirement for Westerville's city manager is being considered by the city's charter-review commission.
Larry Jenkins, a former council member who is serving as the charter-review commission's chairman, said the residency requirement for city manager and assistant city manager is in violation of state law per the Ohio Supreme Court, and removing it would be considered further before making a recommendation to council.
Other items to be discussed, Jenkins said, before sending recommendations to council, include:
* Possible move of council terms' start and end dates to better match with the calendar year which better matches standard government operation and citizens' expectation. Council members' current terms begin Dec. 1 after the election and would end Nov. 30 at the end of their four-year term.
* Possible change in the date requirements of council's annual organizational meeting to occur on a more efficient date when all members and staff can attend and remove the possibility that this meeting could be required to be held on a holiday or Saturday or Sunday evening. The charter currently requires that the council reorganizational meeting occur Dec. 1 no matter what day it falls on.
* Update the meeting and general posting/communication requirements to reflect more modern forms of communication.
* Additional recognition and establishment of city departments and directors to better reflect the current operations and organization chart of the city. Currently, the charter requires the city have certain directors who correspond with city departments.
"Some of these required positions are based on Ohio laws that allow the city to claim the right to provide specific services or legal responsibilities. These would not be changed as we do not want to lose the city's right to govern ourselves in these areas," Jenkins said.
"But some of the directors are specific to Westerville and there are some department directors not included in the charter. The discussion at this point is if the list of directors called out in the charter is correct to current operations and if other director positions should be added so that the charter is consistent and matches current operation," he said.
* Revision of the council member recall process as established in the charter to better align and reflect recently revised state law. The city would look at the state law to see if it is a better guideline for conducting a recall and to ensure the city is using an efficient system, both in operation and cost.
Jenkins said the proposed items are in no way exclusive, and at this point, the commission is totally open to additional comment and opinion.
To allow adequate time for the commission to consider all public comments, the deadline to submit suggestions is March 17.
Comment forms are available at City Hall, 21 S. State St.
"We will consider everything put before us through March 17, and it will be up to the five members of the commission to determine the best recommendations to make to council," he said. "Of course they are free to do what they please from there."
Jenkins said the commission has completed a detailed run-through of each article in the charter, and there have been some items marked for further discussion, but at this point, there have been no big structural changes identified.
"Most things are language changes to provide clarification or better alignment with current state law or city practices," he said.
The commission was scheduled to go back though each article of the charter at its Feb. 25 meeting, with the goal of creating a list of early recommendations.
Jenkins said the five-member commission, which includes Lavonne Bailey as vice chairwoman, Dennis Blair, John Bokros and Megan Reamsnyder, will consider the handful of public comments it has received thus far.
"This will also give us a base for communication as we head into the work session with City Council on March 10," he said.
Christa Dickey, Westerville's community-affairs director, said every 10 years, a charter-review commission is appointed to review Westerville's "constitution."
She said a five-member commission last met in January 2010, reviewing the charter in depth, with a focus on fine-tuning the city document that was adopted in 1964.
For more information, go to westerville.org/charter.