Charter panel sets engineer as acting manager

STEUBENVILLE – The Charter Review Commission is considering proposing a change to allow the city engineer to fill a temporary city manager vacancy.

The city charter currently states the mayor shall be the acting city manager and perform the city manager duties if the city manager is temporarily absent or unable to perform his or her duties due to a temporary or permanent disability.

“I am putting out for some thought and discussion the idea the city finance director should be considered to serve as an acting city manager. The finance director deals with the budget issues in the city. You are preparing the city for a succession policy,” said commission member Jim Mavromatis.

“I think the city engineer would be better versed in all departments and would be a better acting city manager,” suggested commission member Aldo Isadore.

Mayor Domenick Mucci recently served as acting city manager since May when former City Manager Cathy Davison resigned from the position. Mucci relinquished his temporary duties Monday when Tim Boland officially took over the city manager’s job.

“We need to look at this as if Mayor Mucci isn’t here. He won’t always be there,” added commission member Patrick Riley.

The commission agreed after an extended discussion to write new language for the charter calling for the city engineer to serve as the acting city manager in the event of a vacancy. After 30 days the city engineer will receive the difference in pay from his or her engineer position and the city manager salary.

The commission also discussed qualifications for the finance director’s job.

The panel agreed the finance director should be required to have an undergraduate degree in business or accounting with a minimum of two years experience in accounting.

The commission has already agreed to consider eight-year term limits for the mayor and city council positions.

Commission Chairman John J. Mascio said the commission has not made a final decision.

“We will review the entire charter and once we are finished we will review it again and listen to testimony before writing a final recommendation,” said Mascio.

The commission also discussed changing the salaries for the council members and the mayor’s job in executive session.

Mascio declined to discuss the details of the salary proposal.

Council members currently receive $3,900 annually while the mayor is paid $4,900.

The commission met for nearly two hours Thursday morning to review charter language governing in the introduction of legislation and how it is published prior to a final vote.

The commission is set to meet again in public session at 10 a.m. Thursday to start reviewing the charter language regarding the city’s public works department.

All commission meetings are held at the Historic Fort Steuben Visitor Center.

The commission has been meeting to review each paragraph in the city charter that was adopted in 1984 by the city voters.

The document has been officially reviewed in 1987 and again in 1992.

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.

City voters will eventually approve or reject the proposed changes to the charter.

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