Home rule charter adopted

The city’s Government Study Commission approved the final version of the home rule charter at its meeting Monday, sending the document to a public vote in the general election.

The commission reviewed the charter’s seventh draft Monday night. Though some changes were made, the group will not examine an eighth version.

A section on the budget was added to the charter, specifying that a budget must be prepared each fiscal year according to the city’s administrative code. Solicitor Larry Clapper suggested the provision be added, as most other similar charters have some budgetary parameters included.

“It should be mentioned somewhere that someone creates the annual budget,” said Vice Chairman Richard Fiore.

The updated draft also specifies that a capital budget, when deemed necessary, must also be for one year to prevent multi-year programs.

The charter, which has been in the works for more than a year, was approved by a 4-1 vote, with commissioner Heather Eckels as the lone dissenter. Commissioners Richard Flarend and Bev Green were not present at Monday’s meeting, but Chairman Wayne Hippo said they will be given the opportunity to vote in absentia.

He said he thought they deserved a vote on the final product, as they had spent just as many months working on the charter.

Eckels prepared a statement to explain her dissent and declined to comment further on her vote.

In the statement, she expressed concerns that the home rule charter, if passed, would make the city rewrite its administrative code. This, she said, would allow the City Council to write its own rules.

“Allowing a governmental body to craft its own set of rules is a clear conflict of interest,” she said. “Provisions should be made for a third party to draft the administrative code, which could then be presented to council for approval.”

The commission will meet again twice, once in September and once in October, to plan marketing strategies to get the word out among voters about the charter. If the commission decides it wants to amend the charter in any way, it must do so before Sept. 4, the deadline to submit the charter to the county to be placed on the ballot.

Mirror Staff Writer Paige Minemyer is at 946-7535.