Trotwood city charter to get updates

ajc.com

Changes to go into effect upon certification of votes.

TROTWOOD — Trotwood residents approved earlier this month a collection of amendments to the city’s charter, which include changes to the city compensation board, procedures for removing the city manager and clerk of council, and public notice requirements.

According to Clerk of Council Kara Landis, these changes go into effect as soon as the Nov. 2 election results are certified, which is set to take place during a Montgomery County Board of Elections meeting on Nov. 23.

The charter amendments were approved by voters with 68% of votes for and 32% against the measure, according to final, unofficial results.

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According to former Trotwood councilman Rap Hankins, who served as chairman of the charter review commission, the city of Trotwood’s original charter states that every five years, council is to appoint a committee to examine the charter.

“The committee goes through the charter page by page, issue by issue, and makes recommendations for changes or updates,” Hankins said.

Following approval by council, these recommendations then go before voters.

Hankins categorized this year’s recommended changes as “evolutionary not revolutionary,” meaning the recommendations did not involve the overhaul of any existing directives, but were instead minor alterations aimed to ensure “good governance” and efficiency.

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The city’s compensation board, which is formed every five years to study and recommend changes to the compensation of the mayor and council members, will now consist of seven members rather than five. These members will be appointed by council members and will no longer be required to specifically represent labor, business or any other group.

Hankins said these changes were made in compliance with the Ohio Revised Code.

In an effort to save the city money, Hankins said recommendations were made to update the way in which council will be required to notify residents of all public matters, legislation or announcements.

“In the past, anything that was to be put before the council, had to be put either in a newspaper and after the item was voted on by council, the result had to be put in the paper. Over time — we vote on so many issues and we have so much paperwork — that really started amounting to a burden on the finances of the city,” Hankins said.

Now, pertinent information will be put in the newspaper in the beginning, and once the ordinance is passed, it will be put on the city’s website, on Facebook, in the city library, and other public places for residents to view.

“This was done to save substantial money for the citizens of the city,” Hankins said.

In accordance to these public notification updates, the city’s planning commission will now be required to notify residents of any public hearings no less than one week prior to said event.

To remove a city manager or clerk of council, a supermajority vote of at least five out of seven council members. Prior to this change, only four votes were necessary.

Hankins said this change is another aspect of good governance.

“Historically, if a city manager, clerk of council or somebody in authority is removed, it should be because that person has outstayed their welcome, has done something related to moral fortitude, has stolen money, or something of that type,” Hankins said. “A supermajority just ensures that when you remove somebody, you remove them not because you don’t like them or because of personal politics, but because there is a fundamental, principle reason why you’re asking them to leave their job with the city.”

Other smaller changes to the charter, such as to the emergency ordinances and appropriations sections, include updating language to clarify meaning and/or ensure transparency.

“These changes were decided as a way to make the charter applicable to reality today,” Hankins said.

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