Charter review commission sets schedule

STEUBENVILLE – The nine-member Steubenville Charter Review Commission took the first real steps Thursday toward reviewing the “constitution of the city,” listening to suggestions for change and preparing a draft document for City Council and voters to approve next year.

The 40-minute meeting Thursday morning at the Historic Fort Steuben Visitors Center focused on future meeting dates, times and testimony.

The majority of the commission members expressed a desire to hold future meetings during the day.

“I suggest we all review the charter and decide what we will look at. We need to decide who we will interview and how we will conduct the interviews. I also have some concerns because I have been told the city charter is no longer available for reading on the city Website,” said commission member Jim Mavromatis.

“We don’t have case law to judge what is right in the city charter. We need to determine if suggestions made by a department head are in the best interests of that particular department or the city,” added Mavromatis.

Mayor and Acting City Manager Domenick Mucci said his office, “has already started receiving telephone calls from city residents who are interested in making suggestions for changing the charter.”

“I don’t think we will have that many people coming to our meetings. My preference is to hold open meetings allowing people to attend and to talk about their ideas. People will have to understand the sole purpose of the commission is to review the charter document,” said commission Chairman John J. Mascio.

The charter review commission will meet Thursday at the visitors center at a time to be determined.

The commission agreed to ask city department heads to prepare to make suggestions for any changes in the charter by Dec. 12.

“Next week we need to be prepared to discuss Articles 1, 2, 3 and 4. As we go through the charter I can bring the appropriate language of the Ohio Revised Code if we want it,” noted Mascio.

The review commission members held their initial organization meeting last week. They plan to meet every week when enough members are available.

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

“You may find out the language may be satisfactory. Or you may hear suggestions about changes. This is a review commission. You are not here to change the form of city government,” explained Mucci.

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

The city charter has been reviewed in 1987 and 1992.