CW Council considers city charter changes

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By Linda Dillman
Staff Writer

The Canal Winchester Charter Review Commission, charged with reviewing the city’s governing document every 10 years, finalized their recommendations in November and the ball is now in the city council’s court.

It is up to Canal Winchester City Council to determine which, if any or all of those recommendations, will make it to the ballot for approval by voters. During the first work session of the year Jan. 4, council discussed a handful of the recommendations.

“We spent many hours educating ourselves on the current charter, the various forms and options of local government in Ohio and discussed what is in the best interest for Canal Winchester,” said the review committee—chaired by Michael Stobart and vice-chaired by Marilyn Rush-Ekelberry—in a Nov. 13 report.

The committee discussed and debated term limits for both the mayor and council members. They voted 7-4 against a term limit for the mayor and 10-0, with one abstention, against term limits for council.

While committee members explored other structures of local government, they voted 9-2 to keep the current strong mayor-council form of government.

Recommended changes to the charter as proposed by the Charter Review Commission include: A one-year residency requirement for anyone seeking a position on council or the mayor’s office, prohibiting the council clerk from holding other employment/position within the city, and clarification that council has the ability to assign other duties to the clerk.

“I personally don’t see an issue with this one,” said Councilwoman Jill Amos when the council discussed the residency requirement. “Several cities require a one-year residency.”

However, Amos wanted clarification on how residency could be verified. One of the suggestions was to require a candidate to be a registered voter for one year.

“A one-year residency requirement is reasonable,” Councilman Will Bennett said. “You should get to know the community you live in before you represent it.”

Additional suggestions include gender neutral language, allowing required copies of the code of ordinances kept at various locations within city hall, a requirement to have ordinances and resolutions published on the city’s website, and a recommendation to reduce the time between charter reviews from 10 years to five years.
Other CW news
•Mayor Mike Ebert and Councilman Mike Coolman responded to a comment emailed to the city questioning the space in the new community center and a potential need for more discussion before construction starts.

“When we had a public meeting for that, I don’t think anyone showed up,” said Ebert, who reported the new space is larger than the current community center. “They’re waiting until now when we’re close to construction to speak up. There’s going to be more floor area than the hall we have now.”

Ebert said the senior center contains a single large room where tables are stored and cabinets line walls; whereas the new building contains a hall, along with a smaller, separate meeting room and the capability to hold larger meetings in council chambers. In addition, when the library eventually moves out of its space in the east end of the new building, that area can accommodate a larger community center.

“You have a banquet space, a private clinic room and still meeting room,” added Coolman. “They’ll have more usable square footage (in the west end of the building).”

•Since it is an odd numbered year, a new president or vice president of council need not be elected. Mike Walker remained president and Coolman remained vice president.

Committee positions also remained the same. However, Bennett said he will not be seeking re-election this fall and asked for the council to consider appointing another council member to the Joint Recreation District board later this year.

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