Defiance Charter Review Commission member Darrell Handy presented city council with a recap Tuesday evening of its recommendations for four charter amendments.
Handy briefly reviewed the changes that will be decided by city voters on Nov. 5.
Council has no choice but to place the proposed amendments on the ballot. The filing deadline for the fall election passes on Aug. 7.
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 not 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.”
Although not requiring a charter amendment, the commission also recommended that council establish a procedure for selection of future charter review commissions which meet every five years. And the commission suggested that council rules more clearly define what “advice and consent means” — a reference to charter language that governs mayoral appointments.
Handy recognized the commission’s other four members: chairman Charles Beard — who had planned to make Tuesday’s report but could not attend — Bob Armstrong, Katie Groff Held and Chris Mack.
“Everybody worked very well together,” said Handy. “Everybody did a fantastic job on that commission.”
Too, Handy praised the original charter creators in 1983, led by Randy Buchman. He noted the strength of the document — as only a handful of amendments have been made to the charter since it was adopted by Defiance voters in 1984.