Appointments may be needed for charter panel

By Micah Panczyk Published:

Ravenna City Council President Kevin Poland said he may be forced to appoint

residents to the commission, which currently has six members.

Though the last commission convened in 1992, officials had mistakenly thought

that another review was not necessary until 1998. As a result, they have

scrambled to attract volunteers since early spring, when they recognized

the misunderstanding.

``I don't want to have to tap people on the shoulders to tell them `You've

been enlisted to serve on the Charter Review Commission,'^'' Poland said

Thursday. ``But in the next couple of weeks, I'll have no alternative but

to appoint a board and ask that it convene.''

The appointments would be made essentially at random from the pool of the

city's qualified electors, Poland said. Poland has the authority to make

such appointments, according to Law Director Frank Cimino.

``Obviously we can't force someone to sit on the commission, but the charter

language says that council has the responsibility to appoint a commission

every five years,'' Cimino said. ``We're just hoping that a sense of civic

duty will prevail, and volunteers will come forward.''

Council is required by charter to assemble the commission volunteers every

five years to review the city's charter and consider whether it should be

amended.

The city's success in attracting commission members, however, has been limited.

The city's charter requires that 13 members and two alternates serve on

the commission. The commission was supposed to have been assembled by January.

Though there is no explicit date by which by the commission must submit

its recommendations to council, time is still short. Council must review

and take action to place on the ballot any amendment the commission proposes

and then submit these to the board of elections by mid-August, 75 days before

the November election.

``It's dry, thankless work,'' Poland said. ``People don't come up to you

on the street and say `Hey, thanks for working on the charter review commission.'

But the work is an important service to the community and an excellent opportunity

to learn how city government works.''

The charter has been amended at least 18 times as a result of commission

recommendations, Poland said.

Among these is a 1993 amendment requiring council to define the salary packages

of elected officials at least 30 days before the filing deadline for their

respective offices; and a 1987 amendment that changed the Finance Director's

term from one following a calender year to one that facilitated ``more sound

financial management,'' Poland said.

In 1993, voters failed to approve a commission proposal to change the city's

form of government from a strong mayor to a city manager form.

Anyone wishing to serve on the commission should send a letter of interest

that includes name, address and phone number to the attention of Tim Thomas

at Ravenna City Hall.

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