Charter review closer to reality

STEUBENVILLE – City Council will consider a resolution at next week’s regular meeting to establish a charter review commission.

If approved by at least five council members, the commission would look at the city’s government for the first time since 1992.

But, during a committee meeting Tuesday night, not every council member appeared to favor the creation of a nine-person review commission.

“I don’t think the timing is right. With 6th Ward Councilman David Lalich and 2nd Ward Councilman Rick Perkins deciding to not run for re-election, we will definitely have two new council members starting in January. We should not thrust this review commission on the new council members,” stated 3rd Ward Councilman Greg Metcalf.

“If this is approved the mayor will appoint nine people and the commission will start holding hearings and taking testimony from department heads. We will be involved in contract negotiations in December with the firefighters union and early next year with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Union. We will also be working on next year’s budget along with the department heads. I think we should wait until the new members are on the council and the contract negotiations are completed before starting a review of the charter,” continued Metcalf.

And, 4th Ward Councilwoman Angela Suggs asked Lalich why he had never proposed a charter review during his 16 years on the council.

“No one ever called me about creating a review commission. No one was ever adamant about a charter review before now,” responded Lalich.

Fifth Ward Councilman Willie Paul has led the discussions regarding a charter review commission.

“I am just asking for a review. I think this should be done because it hasn’t been reviewed since 1992. There is no written manual for new council members. We are learning on the fly. I think we may be helping the new people coming onto the council. This is something we need to do,” said Paul.

“I am in support of a charter review. I will support it,” said Councilman at large Kenny Davis.

“I want to see this go forward instead of sitting back like we have done on so many things for the past few years,” said Perkins.

“I won’t disagree some citizens are requesting a charter review. If the council (members) with five votes say they want a charter review commission appointed I will select nine members to review the charter. They will not change the charter form of government. A change in the government is a whole different process. It isn’t bad to review the charter periodically,” said Mayor Domenick Mucci.

Mucci also suggested the commission members cannot include current city employees, no elected officials, no city board or commission members and no persons doing business with the city.

Council’s Pride Committee discussed several ideas for adopting a vacant lot or tot lot for maintenance purposes.

“I would like to see the landlords and banks who have foreclosed on properties to also get involved with this. We need everyone to be involved in the beautification of our city,” remarked 1st Ward Councilman Gerald DiLoreto.

City Engineer Michael Dolak told the service committee he plans to remove Harvard Boulevard from the 2013 street paving list.

“There were three recent water line breaks under that street and the water line infrastructure needs replaced. I am recommending we delay paving that street until the water lines are replaced,” said Dolak.

During the sunshine meeting, Lalich introduced the 2013 budget that includes closing the Pleasant Heights fire station and laying off five firefighters.

Other legislation proposed by Lalich included:

Authorizing the city manager to sign a contract with MWH Constructors for the design of a super pulsator building at the water filtration plant.

Advertising for proposals for a new delinquent water account collection service.

Amending the current table of organization.

Perkins introduced a resolution declaring April as Fair Housing Month in the city.

Lalich also scheduled a finance committee meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday to discuss the possibility of taking money from the safety fund in order to open and operate the Belleview Pool this summer.