By Katelyn Sattler
Residents will not see many differences in the way the village of Obetz functions as it transitions to become the city of Obetz.
According to the 2020 U.S. Census, Obetz grew 21 percent since 2010 to 5,489 residents and now qualifies as a city as it surpassed the 5,000 resident requirement in Ohio.
In comparison to nearby towns, according to the 2020 U.S. Census, the population of the city of Canal Winchester grew 28 percent to 9,107 and the city of Groveport grew 12 percent to 6,009.
“We’re excited about city status, said Obetz Mayor Angela Kirk.
Obetz officials have been planning for the change to city status as the Obetz Village Charter lays out what will change once the town becomes a city.
“I think we’re in really good shape as far as our Charter goes to make this a smooth transition,” said Kirk. “We formed a Charter Review Commission and met this winter to determine what will be revised in the Charter when we become a city. We’ve been planning the development of neighborhoods to prepare for growth, which reflects our ability to transition smoothly. We’ll be eligible for more grants and federal programs and it won’t affect our budget.”
Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose will send Kirk a letter proclaiming Obetz to be a city, which will become effective 30 days after the issuance of the letter. Within 120 days after Obetz becomes a city, Obetz Council will follow through with setting up the city as described in the Village Charter.
The main change will be in hiring employees. While Obetz Village Administrator Rod Davisson feels Obetz already has a highly qualified staff based on merit and fitness, the jobs currently do not require competitive examinations, or ranking of competitors, which will be required in the transition to city status. The city will need to establish the competitive examinations, which will make hiring personnel more cumbersome as employees then become classified service employees. This applies only to new employees as current employees will not be required to take competitive examinations for their current positions.
The only new hiring required by the change in status from village to city is to create the Personnel Board of Review, which will consist of three members appointed by the mayor and confirmed by council for overlapping three years terms, to hear employment appeals and render decisions.
When asked if he thought employees might unionize once Obetz becomes a city, Davisson wasn’t sure.
“They all could do it,” said Davisson. “There are tons of unions out there, but I think the employees are happy here. Obetz is the best place to work.”
Added Kirk, “I don’t know if they will unionize, which is absolutely their choice. Either way, it won’t be any type of burden for our residents.”
Obetz officials feel the transition will be seamless and most residents will not notice a difference, as the town has been essentially operating as a city already.
“Nothing changes as far as the budget goes,” said Davisson.
This has been a natural progression over the past 15 to 20 years. Even the newer signs have dropped “Village” in anticipation of receiving city status.
“We started doing city-level accrual-based accounting every year seven years ago,” said Davisson. “Villages do cash-based accounting every other year.”
Accrual accounting recognizes revenues and expenses in the same period, whereas cash accounting recognizes transactions only when payment is exchanged.
Being a city means Obetz will have access to different federal and state grants under Ohio law.
“When interacting with other states, the city designation carries more weight,” said Davisson.