Westerville charter amendments expected to help city run more 'effectively, efficiently'

Marla K. Kuhlman
ThisWeek group

Westerville voters will consider five amendments to the city charter that are packaged as one ballot initiative, known as Issue 12, on the Nov. 3 ballot.

City Manager David Collinsworth said it’s important that residents understand this is a request to approve the work their neighbors have done in conducting a thorough review of the charter to bring it up to date.

Westerville city administrative offices

Larry Jenkins, who served as chairman of the charter-review commission, said the proposed amendments are mostly updates to recognize modern technologies in communication methods or to update the charter to match current state law or processes. 

More:Westerville: City charter’s updates left to voters

More:Westerville's five charter amendments to appear as one November issue

More:Westerville charter changes would update city's 'constitution'

The proposed five amendments, Collinsworth said, simply would help the city government operate more effectively and efficiently. 

The amendments include: 

• Updating the meeting and general posting/communication requirements to reflect more modern forms of communication, allowing for electronic notices and removal of antiquated “posting” requirements

• Clarifying that certain types of legislative action, generally those of a temporary, informal or ceremonial action (such as motions), are effective immediately. The charter specifies that except for certain identified types, ordinances and resolutions must be effective 30 days after approval.

Collinsworth said this would eliminate any possible confusion as to when certain legislative actions, such as resolutions in support of state legislation or a certain event or motions to purchase equipment, become effective after passage.

• Moving council members' terms’ start date to Jan. 1, which better matches standard government operation and citizens’ expectation. Council members’ current terms begin Dec. 1 and end Nov. 30 at the end of their four-year term. 

 • Adjusting recall procedures to follow state statute. Recent changes in state law have made the recall-petition format more straightforward and understandable for the public, according to Collinsworth. He said following that procedure should prove less cumbersome than the city having its own separate procedure in the charter. 

• Allowing personnel-review board members to also serve on other boards. Collinsworth said the board meets so infrequently that this provides those volunteers an opportunity to get broader experience with the time they are donating to public service.

Jenkins had led the five‐member commission that had met for over a dozen hours in open public meetings, in addition to two joint public meetings with council, this year and last year to review the charter in depth, with a focus on fine‐tuning the document.  

The last time voters approved charter amendments was 2010.

For more information, go to westerville.org/charter.

Although Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 3, overseas and military absentee voting began Sept. 18 and early in-person and mail-in absentee voting began Oct. 6, according to the Ohio Secretary of State's Office voting schedule.

mkuhlman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekMarla