BG voters to decide on changes to City Charter

Bowling Green City Charter Review Committee holds a meeting earlier this year.

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN

BG Independent News

 

Reading election issues on ballots is enough to make some voters doze off while standing at the voting machine.

This year, Bowling Green voters will decide four City Charter items – and city officials are trying to explain them without having to set a snooze alarm.

Three items will modify the existing City Charter, while one will actually remove an item from the charter altogether.

Following is a brief explanation of each.

Filling vacancies on council

The first ballot issue would result in repealing the existing charter language about filling council vacancies. This item actually has very little explanation on the ballot. The charter currently stipulates that when a council seat is vacated, the person appointed to the seat will serve the remainder of the term.

“There is a potential for someone to be appointed to City Council and serve up to four years in that seat,” said Joe Fawcett, assistant municipal administrator.

If the current language is repealed, the city will be in alignment with the Ohio Revised Code. The state code requires that the person appointed will only remain in the seat until the next election.

Adding Department of Planning

The second charter item on the ballot would result in the addition of the Department of Planning to the City Charter.

“Planning is an important component of the city,” Fawcett said.

The major functions of the planning office will continue to be described in the city’s codified ordinances.

Increase candidate pool for fire and police; decrease bonus credit for veterans

The third charter issue involves the city’s Civil Service Commission. The change would increase the eligibility list for hiring of entry level firefighter and police officer positions from three to five names. The list is certified by the Civil Service Commission and is based on the people with the highest standings.

“The goal is to expand the candidate pool for those positions,” Fawcett said.

Both the police and fire chiefs support the change.

The amendment also grants a 10 percent bonus credit for honorably discharged veterans who achieve a passing score on entry level position tests. That is lower than the current 20 percent credit. The change has been approved by veterans involved in the charter updating process.

“I think it’s an appropriate level,” said Fawcett, himself a veteran.

Require charter reviews at least once a decade

The final charter change would require the city to set up a Charter Review Committee to consider updates at least once every 10 years.

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