In February, Council voted to add a Charter Amendment to the May 3 Primary Election ballot. The ballot language is as follows:
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:
If you have any questions or concerns about this Charter Amendment, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Council President Jessica Brandt at firstname.lastname@example.org.