Charter panel sets night session

STEUBENVILLE – The Charter Review Commission will hold a public meeting at 7 p.m. next Thursday in the City Council chambers and has invited anyone with a question, suggestion or comment to attend.

“We talked about holding at least one evening meeting to make it easier for people who are working to attend one of our meetings. We will see what the turnout is like,” said Commission Chairman John J. Mascio.

The commission has been meeting on Thursday mornings on a weekly basis since Nov. 7 at the Historic Fort Steuben Visitors Center.

The review commission held its initial organization meeting in October.

Mayor Domenick Mucci proposed all hearings 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 the city council by July so the proposed changes can appear on the November general election ballot.

He also urged the commission should encourage involvement by elected and administration officials, city employees, business leaders, business organizations, labor, citizen groups and citizens.

Attendance at the Thursday morning meetings has been sparse.

The city charter was reviewed in 1987 and 1992.

Commission member Andy Celestin was also a member of the 1992 charter review commission and said an evening meeting at that time saw a large crowd attend the session.

The commission continued discussing charter language for the selection of future police and fire chiefs.

The members also heard from retired city councilmen David Lalich and Rick Perkins.

“I agree with your proposal to name the finance director to serve as the acting city manager during a vacancy. We have kind of been spoiled with Mayor Mucci. He has been here for a long time and he knows what is going on. But Domenick won’t be mayor forever. If you need to have someone to fill in for the city manager it should be the finance director,” cited Perkins, the retired 2nd Ward councilman.

“I also agree with term limits for council members but suggest it should be no more than three consecutive terms. And, I know you have looked at the council salaries. I would raise the annual salary to $6,000 and take away their health care insurance, cellphone and computer,” added Perkins.

“I don’t think there is a reason to go outside of the departments for future police or fire chiefs. I don’t think our current system is broke. I look at the quality of people we have in the police and fire departments,” added Perkins.

“I agree with Rick on the finance director serving as the acting city manager in the event of a vacancy. The city engineer can often be out in the field and unavailable for the daily job of running the city,” said Lalich, a retired 6th Ward councilman.

Resident Mark Nelson urged the commission, “to use caution because this is a major document that governs our city. I do think the checks and balances have been overstepped a little in the past.”

“We need to review our timeline and decide how we are going to go forward after the Thursday evening meeting. We still need to review our proposed changes and the entire charter before making our recommendations to the city council,” noted commission member Aldo Isadore.