Election Day is November 6, and there are a few City Charter amendments on the ballot this year.
The three City Charter amendments are on the ballot as issues 6, 7 and 8 in Butler County. In Warren County, they are issues 22, 23 and 24. Here is a brief explanation of each issue and why it is being proposed.
Issue 6 and 22: The purpose of this proposal is to remove language from the charter related to the transition of City Council from five at-large members to seven members (four from wards and three at-large) and back to five at-large (directly elected mayor and four council members). This proposal is a “clean-up” matter. These sections of the Charter have been rewritten on several occasions starting in 1990 to implement the adoption of the ward elections, provide for the direct election of the mayor and ultimately to rescind the election of council members by ward and return to an all at-large membership. The language changes provide a simpler description of the composition and election of City Council. These amendments do not change the make-up or operation of City Council.
Issue 7 and 23: The purpose of this proposal is to eliminate the Charter requirement that a copy of the City’s Annual Report be maintained at the Public Library. The advance of technology makes this a “win-win” proposition for the citizens of Middletown. Traveling to the local library to obtain a copy of the City’s annual report is certainly more burdensome than calling it up on a computer or other electronic device. Even if a citizen does not own an electronic device, he/she can obtain the report by contacting the Clerk of City Council. This change moves the City from a purely “paper” world to “paperless” options.
Issue 8 and 24: The purpose of this proposal is to replace requirements in the Charter that certain legislation and notifications of certain public hearings be published in the newspaper with publication by electronic media. Article IV of the Charter addresses legislation. Certain matters are required to be published in a newspaper of general circulation in the City. Specifically, the first ordinance in a series of measures involving special assessments for street improvements or ordinances pertaining to franchises, rates or civil service cannot be passed as emergency measures absent a public hearing which requires notice in a newspaper of general circulation in the City. In addition, second readings must be similarly published. Finally, ordinances of a general or permanent nature, or providing for public improvements or assessing property must be published in not more than two newspapers. Newspaper publication is no longer an effective method of public notice. First a declining number of people subscribe to newspapers and there is little evidence to support the theory that legal notices in the newspaper are a primary means of providing information to the general public. Moreover, there is cost associated with newspaper publication. This change eliminates mandated expenditure for the publication. Electronic publication is a more efficient and effective means of reaching citizens of the City with this information.