City term limits debated by charter review panel
STEUBENVILLE – The Charter Review Commission heard a friendly debate Thursday night regarding term limits for elected city officials and how much council members should be paid.
During the rare evening public meeting it was standing room only in City Council chambers as Commission Chairman John J. Mascio reviewed changes to the city charter the commission tentatively has listed.
City resident Sara DiCarlantonio questioned why the commission is considering increasing the salaries for the council members but eliminating the health insurance.
“I don’t believe we should receive benefits. I took this job to represent the citizens. I’m perfectly happy with $3,900 a year,” stated 6th Ward Councilman Bob Villamagna.
“That’s where we are going to disagree. We want to pay for good government. We live in a city that is the most violent community between Pittsburgh and Cincinnati. Our new council members have a task left to them by their predecessors. If we have good government we should pay for them. We should reward our council members as much as we can,” responded city resident Fred Walsh.
“I would also like to see the council members be more interactive with the public during the council meetings and the mayor be more animated with the public.
It’s time we all get involved with the mission of addressing the criminal element in the city. You should make the regular council meetings more personal,” said Walsh.
City resident William C. Watson said the citizens of Steubenville, “need council members who are dedicated. We want people on council who are dedicated to the city.”
“I think you should have health insurance as an option. And I don’t agree with the term limits. We don’t have people beating down the door to run. If you set term limits in the charter we may have good council members who can’t run. I don’t think that is the proper route to take,” said city resident Jackey Hines.
Commission member Rikki Kamarados said people don’t always run against incumbents.
City resident and Assistant Fire Chief Sam Ivkovich argued against a pay raise for council members and said the job shouldn’t be about compensation.
“The three city unions have taken a beating on our health care. And I think term limits are a good idea,” noted Ivkovich.
Discussion during the 90-minute meeting also focused on how legislation is passed at council meetings, the possibility of public comments during council sunshine meetings and how future police and fire chiefs may be chosen.
City resident LaDonna Delatore questioned why the charter review commission was considering a language change to allow the city to search for a police or fire chief from outside of the city departments.
“I believe in hiring a chief from within the ranks and not bringing in an outsider. I am pleased council hired a city manager from Ohio who is already familiar with Ohio’s laws,” said Delatore.
Lawrence Tomaselli of Steubenville requested the charter include language limiting all city issues up for a vote be placed on the November general election ballots.
City resident Michael McIntyre asked for the commission to include new language in the charter requiring the city to make the council meetings available to the public through the social media or broadcast.
And Mayor Domenick Mucci urged the commission members to reconsider tentative plans to make the city engineer or city finance director the acting city manager in the case of a vacancy.
“I have served as acting city manager of four different occasions, but I understand there may be a new mayor in place at some point. I would suggest you include language to allow the seven members of council to decide who will serve as acting city manager in the future,” said Mucci.
He said he will submit more ideas in writing to the commission members.
Commission member Jim Mavromatis reviewed the future process that will include sending a draft of the revised charter to City Council by July for certification to be placed on the November ballot.
Mavromatis also urged all city residents to look at the city’s website at www.cityofsteubenville.us for a copy of the current charter.
Mascio said the charter review commission will resume its weekly meetings at 10 a.m. Thursday at the Historic Fort Steuben Visitors Center.
“The meetings are open to the public, and we welcome you,” said Mascio.
(Gossett can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.)