STOW – Following its inaugural meeting last week, the Charter Review Commission will work over the next five weeks to review the city charter and present any proposed amendments to city council.
The Charter Review Commission was formed shortly before Gov. Mike DeWine closed down public buildings. While the commission normally takes several months to do its work, commission members waited until public comments could be made at the meetings and now has five weeks to work on its review.
At its meeting on Wednesday, John Baranek was chosen as chair and Deborah Matz was chosen as vice chairman. The commission will meet every Wednesday at 7 p.m. in June and the first week in July using Zoom at https://youtube.com/c/CityofStowOhio. The public may request to speak at the meeting and will be provided a link through administrative supervisor Deborah Bennington.
Under the city charter, a new commission is to be established every five years. Mayor John Pribonic selected the members of the current commission and council confirmed them. In addition to Baranek and Matz, members include John Moyer, Charles Obendorf, Alan Narvy, Jennifer Snyder and Wendy Supple.
City Law Director Jaime Syx and Deputy Law Director Callie Morrison Channell will help craft legislation for the amendments before they are presented to council members.
The Charter Review Commission will review the charter for anything that needs amended or for inconsistencies, Syx said. Recommendations must be submitted to council by July 9 to allow them to have three readings before any amendments are sent to the Summit County Board of Elections by Sept. 4 to be on the November ballot for Stow voters.
"We need to hit all those timelines," Syx said.
At the April 23 council meeting, Syx said the Charter Review Commission would have an Aug. 1 deadline for council to make a single-reading approval of recommended charter changes.
Council members urged the commission to meet in June and July.
The Charter Review Commission will look at the charter and focus on areas that may need amendments.
Members can look through the charter and if they have articles to address, they can get them to Bennington to list and discuss at the next meeting, said Matz.
The commission can ask for input from the administration, council and the public for areas in the charter they would like to see amended or clarified, Baranek said.
Baranek said one area in the charter that needs clarification is on how incomplete terms are calculated for term-limit years. Currently, if someone serves a portion of a year because of a resignation, it counts as a whole year toward their term limit.
Instead of the term ending on a regular election cycle, it falls on a previous year and requires a special election for that office, he said.
"That’s something we need to look at," Baranek said.
Harvey also said they need to look at when terms are served.
"Last year we had six new councilmen join at the same time and one person with six months experience," Harvey said. "It seems to me it should be staggered so we have a continuity and we don’t have everyone leaving at once. The new six people bring a lot to the table, but we should have experience from previous council."
The next meeting for the Charter Review Commission is June 3 at 7 p.m.
Two ways to submit comments
There are two different ways that residents can provide input on potential charter changes to the Stow Charter Review Commission.
Residents can provide public comments that will be read during the meeting by providing their name, address, and comment in writing to the secretary of the commission no later than noon the day of the meeting by email to email@example.com. Any written public comments will be read by the secretary during the meeting.
Any members of the public wishing to make a live public comment during the meeting must provide their name and address to the secretary of the commission no later than noon the day of the meeting by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. The secretary will provide a meeting invite back to the member of the public wishing to make a comment along with the appropriate instructions and rules regarding live public comment.
Gannett reporter Laura Freeman can be reached at email@example.com