Few hear of charter proposals

STEUBENVILLE – Only a handful of city residents attended a Thursday evening session of the Charter Review Commission to politely discuss and, at times, debate proposed changes to the document.

A summary copy of the proposed changes was available for everyone who attended the 80-minute meeting at Eastern Gateway Community College.

Commission Chairman John J. Mascio later said the commission had several issues to review after hearing from the city residents and city officials.

“We are here tonight to hear suggestions or proposed amendments to the city charter and what we have proposed to send to City Council later this month. We have heard input from individuals and different groups. This document does not mean the commission is 100 percent behind every suggested change. But, we had a majority favor each of these changes,” announced Mascio.

City resident Fred Walsh expressed some concern regarding proposed term limits for the mayor and council members.

“I can understand the necessity of term limits, but at the same time I don’t want to lose good people. This was needed a long time ago but it could handcuff people who come into these offices,” said Walsh.

“This does permit a change in ideas. If you are in office too long you can become stagnant,” responded Mascio.

A hot-button issue Thursday night was selection of an acting city manager.

“I am asking you to leave the decision up to City Council,” said Amelia Taggart.

“I don’t like the council appointing an acting city manager. There could be some politics involved and a little bit of prejudice,” noted 6th Ward Councilman Bob Villamagna.

“I believe the city manager should make the appointment of an acting city manager,” added City Manager Tim Boland.

“We will have a lot to talk about when we meet next week,” remarked Mascio.

“I believe the city council should appoint an acting city manager when there is a vacancy. If the city manager is going to be away from the office, then the manager should appoint an interim city manager,” lobbied Mayor Domenick Mucci.

The next hot-button issue Thursday night centered on the selection of future police and fire chiefs with former Safety Director Bill Kerr saying testing for the job, “isn’t always a true test of leadership.”

“When you don’t have true leadership I don’t care how smart you are. I suggest you give the city manager the right to pick the person they want for that job. I would like to see the position filled from the inside first and then go outside if the internal candidate isn’t there. It is a way to have a second choice if necessary,” said Kerr.

In other issues, Taggart suggested the future charter review commission include at least one member from each of the city’s political wards.

Mascio explained the commission tried to consolidate the individual changes into 13 issues that will appear separately on the November ballot.

“If we had put each change on separately you would probably have 25 issues to review and vote on,” said Mascio.

Mascio also said the commission will meet at 10 a.m. Thursday at the Historic For Steuben Visitor Center to continue its review of the charter.

(Gossett can be contacted at dgossett@heraldstaronline.com.)