ON YOUR BALLOT: Amendments intended to clean up village charter

By Jonathan Delozier - jdelozier@civitasmedia.com

There are seven amendments to Wellington’s village charter on the Nov. 8 ballot meant to clean up existing language and fall into compliance with state and county laws.

The changes fall under issues nine through 15.

Terry Mazzone, who has served as treasurer on the village charter commission, said the changes have also been made to stay ahead of a possible reclassification of Wellington as a city in the next U.S. Census.

“We went through the charter section by section,” he said. “These changes are meant to address the few hiccups we’ve found. None of it is very controversial.”

The U.S. Census Bureau recorded Wellington’s population as 4,802 in 2010.

“This will give us control over how our government would form in the event of the village becoming a city,” he said. “Being withing a couple hundred people of becoming a city is definitely cause to take these sort of measures. I don’t know if we’re going to top 5,000 in 2020, though.”

Issue 9 calls for a mayor or council seat replacement to be determined by voters and clarifies the length of time the replacement will serve.

If the vacancy has an unexpired term and occurs more than 40 days before the next election, the replacement would be voted on in that election unless the term ends within one year following the date of that election.

“We needed to fall into compliance with Lorain County rules here,” he said. “You can only elect new council members in odd numbered years.”

Issue 10 would delete outdated language and already expired transitional provisions in the original draft of the charter.

“Way back in 2010 we still had a village treasurer,” said Mazzone. “Her term didn’t expire until April of 2011, so we needed to have some transitional language until we were able to put in our finance director’s position. We no longer need that language so we got rid of it.”

Issue 11 clarifies that the mayor will never be considered a member of village council, even when breaking a tie in votes. “We didn’t see any benefit to considering the mayor a member of council,” he said. “The mayor is always the mayor.”

Issue 12 aims to establish a consistent chain of command for administrative departments that report to the mayor. Some people report to the mayor and some report to the village manager, said Mazzone, and clarification is needed.

Issue 13 assures the Village Board of Tax Review is compliant with state law.

“If we ever become a city we have to have a tax review board,” he said. “This lays the groundwork for one in the event we need it.”

Issue 14 states that charter nomination papers must be submitted at least 90 days prior to an election instead of 40. For a recall, the deadline to submit would also be moved from 40 to 90 days before the election, but not more than 120. This is also meant to comply with Lorain County Board of Elections requirements.

Issue 15 raises the amount for public contract bidding from $25,000 to $50,000 in order to match state law contracting provisions.

“There aren’t a lot of huge changes to the charter at this time,” said Mazzone. “These are the issues that we came up with after going over the minutes from council meetings for the past five years.”

Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.

By Jonathan Delozier