Charter commission to organize Monday

STEUBENVILLE – The Steubenville Charter Review Commission will meet for the first time at 7 p.m. Monday in council chambers to organize for the job of taking testimony, suggestions and ideas regarding the 29-year charter form of government.

Mayor and Acting City Manager Domenick Mucci has scheduled the initial meeting of the nine-member commission.

The commission is expected to appoint a chairperson along with a commission secretary from among its members. The commission will also discuss scheduling future meetings.

According to a tentative agenda suggested by Mucci, the commission should invite participation from elected and administration officials including department heads. Testimony regarding the charter should also come from employees, business leaders, business organizations, labor, citizen groups and private citizens.

Mucci has set a tentative timeline for the commission, calling for all public hearings to be completed by May.

“The commission will review all suggestions by June and finalize any proposed changes to City Council by July. The council may adopt a resolution containing changes to the charter and forward the suggested changes to the Jefferson County Board of Elections by August in order to appear on the November 2014 general election ballot. A notice of proposed changes should be mailed to city residents in September next year,” explained Mucci.

Council approved the nine people recommended by Mucci to serve on the charter review commission earlier this month.

Mucci recommended Jacqueline Platt, Aldo Isadore, Louise Holliday, John J. Mascio, Priscilla Demjan, James Mavromatis, Rikki Kamarados, Patrick Riley and James Baber to the commission that is expected to hold meetings, hear testimony and suggestions on amending the charter that was initially approved by city voters and implemented in 1984.

The charter was reviewed in 1987 and again in 1992.

“The Charter Review Commission is not going to do away with the charter. Any plans to abolish the charter would need to start with a petition drive and if that is successful, the issue would be placed before the voters. And the council cannot generate a drive to abolish the charter,” Mucci explained.

Fifth Ward Councilman Willie Paul raised the idea of a charter review commission during a February council meeting.

“Things have changed in our city since the charter was first approved in 1984. I would like to see the mayor appoint the nine-member committee needed to start a review of the charter. I think we should look at several issues including if we need a city manager and if we need seven council members. We now have 18,000 people living in the city, which is a change from 1984. Things are completely different now. And we need to look at the checks and balances in Steubenville,” Paul stated at the Feb. 19 sunshine meeting.

During the discussions in February and March, Mucci suggested the commission members not include current city employees, elected officials, city board or commission members or persons doing business with the city.

Council voted 5 to 2 in favor of creating the charter review commission at the March 26 council meeting.

Third Ward Councilman Greg Metcalf and 4th Ward Councilwoman Angela Suggs opposed the resolution at the March meeting, saying the time was not right for a charter review.

Mucci said all nine commission members will receive a copy of the charter.