Defiance voters will decide the fate of four proposed charter amendments at the ballot box this fall.
The proposals would amend the document that sets up the structure of Defiance’s municipal government, and was approved by city voters in 1983. Before the charter went into effect in 1984, the government was set up under provisions of state law.
One of the charter’s requirements is a five-year review of the document by a five-member commission to determine what amendments — if any — should be presented to voters. (All charter amendments must be approved by Defiance’s voters.)
The commission held a series of five meetings from March-June, reviewing the charter’s eight governing sections. The result was four proposed amendments.
Perhaps, the most significant is a proposal to combined the city’s planning commission and zoning board of zoning and building appeal. Members felt this would speed the process for developers needing city approval to proceed with various projects.
The amendments were presented this summer to city council, which was required to place them on the Nov. 5 ballot.
The four proposed amendments would:
• combine the city’s planning commission, and board of zoning and building appeals.
The planning commission now has seven members and considers proposals generally related to business projects, such as site plan reviews for new developments. The board of zoning and building appeals now has five members, and generally considers zoning issues, such as variances for residential building projects.
• strike the word (political) “party” from Sec. 2.07 concerning changes in council’s compensation. A charter amendment approved by voters in 2014 — following the last charter review — made all council seats non-partisan.
• adjust Sec. 3.03 concerning the timeline for a change in the mayor’s pay.
At present, the charter states that any change by council in the mayor’s pay “shall be made ... not later than the first day of January immediately preceding the commencement of a new term of office of the mayor.”
Council recently approved a pay raise for the mayor’s position, but due to this language, the raise won’t take effect until 2024.
While that schedule will be preserved if the amendment passes, the change would allow future mayoral raises approved by council to begin sooner. The new language would state that any change by council in the mayor’s pay “shall be made by council no later than the first day of January of the commencement of a new term of office of the mayor.”
• replace the word “percentage” with the word “number” in Sec. 4.04 concerning petition requirements for nominations and elections.
While the charter now states that “the percentage of electors required to sign any petition provided for herein shall be based upon the total vote cast at the last preceding general municipal election,” the proposed amendment stipulates that “the number of electors required to sign any petition provided for herein shall be based upon the total vote cast at the last preceding general municipal election.”