Proposed Charter Amendment on May 3 Ballot

0

In February, Council voted to add a Charter Amendment to the May 3 Primary Election ballot. The ballot language is as follows:

Issue 10

Proposed Charter Amendment – Shall the Charter of the City of Macedonia be amended to authorize public bodies of the municipality to hold virtual meetings when the public body determines, by the assent of at least two-thirds of its members, that a public health emergency or inclement weather emergency exists?

Questions and Answers about this amendment:

Can I cast a vote without declaring a political party to primary?

Yes. Any registered voter is allowed to vote on an “Issues Only” ballot. If you choose a party ballot, the Charter Amendment issue will also be included.

Aren’t “virtual meetings” already allowed in Ohio? Council has been doing them.

In Spring of 2020, the Ohio General Assembly made changes to the Open Meetings Act to allow for virtual meetings, through July 1, 2021. Council then began holding its meetings virtually. After July 1, virtual meetings were no longer allowed, and Council went back to in-person meetings for the rest of 2021 and the beginning of 2022. In February of this year, the General Assembly once again changed the Open Meetings Act to allow for virtual meetings through June 30, 2022. Currently, Council is at the mercy of the Ohio General Assembly when it comes to its ability to hold virtual meetings.

How can Macedonia have an amendment that goes against the rules of the state?

The Ohio Constitution grants municipalities the authority to exercise all powers of local self-government. Ohio courts have concluded that a charter municipality such as Macedonia has the right to determine through its charter the manner in which its meetings will be held. Our Charter can set forth rules that differ from those of the state of Ohio.

Why do we have to vote on this? Can’t Council just make it a rule?

All Charter Amendments must be voted on by the public. The Charter is like the US or Ohio Constitution. Council votes on Ordinances and Resolutions, which must align with the Charter. The voters of Macedonia approve the Charter.

If the Charter Amendment passes, will all Council meetings be virtual?

No. The change to the Charter Amendment will require a “public health emergency” or “inclement weather emergency” to be determined in order to have a virtual meeting. Also, 4/5 of Council members must agree to this change in location. Council will be determined to meet in person, at City Hall, as long as it is safe for everyone to attend.

This Charter Amendment also pertains to commissions and committees in Macedonia, who will also have to follow the same rules for declaring a virtual meeting.

When will this go into effect?

If the Charter Amendment passes, the ability to have virtual meetings will go into effect once the election is certified. Within a day or two, pending no recounts.

How can I attend a virtual meeting?

Go to the city web site and click “Meeting Portal” and then the group you are looking for (City Council, Building & Engineering or other Committees). There you will find a link to the live meeting, which will open in Microsoft Teams viewer (free) or your Edge browser. When a meeting is virtual, public comments will be allowed via Teams. Otherwise, when a meeting is in person but live streamed, public comments can only be made by those in attendance.

How will the wording of the charter change?

The underlined words in the below passage indicate additions to the text:

ARTICLE IV

COUNCIL

***

Section 4.06  Regular Meetings.

                The Mayor shall ensure that at the first regularly scheduled meeting of Council of each year, but not later than January 15th of each year, Council shall convene and organize at the Council Chambers of the Municipality, or convene and organize virtually as may be authorized pursuant to Section 4.15 of the Charter. The Mayor, or one appointed by the Mayor, shall preside as Chairman. Thereafter, Council shall meet at such times as may be prescribed by its rules, regulations, by-laws, or by ordinance or resolution, except that it shall hold regular meetings at least once during each calendar month. All regular meetings of Council shall be held at the Council Chambers, or virtually as may be authorized pursuant to Section 4.15 of the Charter, and shall be open to the public in accordance with ordinance.

Section 4.07  Special Meetings.

                Special meetings of Council may be called as provided by its rules, regulations and by- laws or by ordinance or resolution and shall be open to the public in accordance with ordinance.  Special meetings may be held virtually as authorized by Section 4.15 of the Charter. 

***

 Section 4.15     Virtual Meetings of Council and Other Public Bodies.

 

Council, as well as any other public body of the municipality, may elect to meet virtually in lieu of an in-person meeting, but only in the event that the public body first determines, by the assent of at least two-thirds of its members, that meeting virtually is necessary due to either a public health emergency or due to an emergency caused by inclement weather.  Such meetings shall continue to be open to the public in accordance with ordinance.


If you have any questions or concerns about this Charter Amendment, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Council President Jessica Brandt at jbrandt@macedonia.oh.us.

Share.

Comments are closed.