Charter panel starts review

STEUBENVILLE – The Charter Review Commission reviewed and discussed the possibility of term limits for public officials and how long public officials should be allowed to speak at City Council meetings during Thursday’s meeting.

The commission members spent nearly two hours dissecting the first nine pages of the charter that was last reviewed in 1992.

“I think people should have no less than 10 minutes to speak when they are addressing legislation scheduled for adoption,” Commission Chairman John J. Mascio said.

The issue of term limits for council members and the mayor also was raised but no action was proposed during the nearly two-hour meeting.

“If there hasn’t been a definitive problem, then why would we address this issue? The pro side of term limits is it does bring in fresh ideas. And people don’t get complacent,” noted Commission member Jim Mavromatis.

The commission also discussed a system of checks and balances for council and mayor.

“We may want to look at adding malfeasance, misfeasance and nonfeasance to unexcused absences as reasons why someone should be removed from office,” said Mascio.

“It would be a positive thing to do for the voters,” added Mavromatis.

The commission also expressed concerns regarding charter language governing the hiring of a new city manager.

The charter calls for the hiring of a city manager within 120 days of a vacancy occurring.

“What is the penalty if the council doesn’t do it. If the council doesn’t abide by the charter language, what do you do,” asked Mavromatis.

Mavromatis repeated his concerns regarding the charter not being available on the city website.

“People can’t look at it if they want to read the document,” noted Mavromatis.

The commission started reviewing the charter page by page Thursday often spending several minutes on each paragraph.

The commission is set to meet again at 10 a.m. Thursday to discuss the charter-mandated salaries for the council members and the mayor.

The council members receive an annual salary of $3,900, while the mayor is paid $4,900 a year.

Mascio said he asked Mayor and Acting City Manager Domenick Mucci to advise all department heads to review the city charter and be prepared to discuss any ideas they may have for changes to the charter.

“I am also preparing a list of individuals and organizations to be invited to address the commission regarding the city charter,” Mascio reported.

Mascio also is expected to ask Mucci to make a new appointment to the charter commission.

Mascio said Louise Holliday cannot serve on the commission because the weekly meetings are scheduled for 10 a.m. and she is working at that time.

And commission member Aldo Isadore asked for a copy of Ohio’s Sunshine law.

Mucci’s proposed timeline calls for all hearings to be completed by May .

Mucci also said the commission should forward any proposed changes to City Council by July so the proposed changes can appear on the November 2014 general election ballot.

The city charter became the official form of government in Steubenville in 1984 and was reviewed in 1987 and 1992.

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