Urbana voters to consider charter amendments

The Champaign County Board of Elections. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

Voters in Urbana will consider several amendments to the city’s charter during the Nov. 3 general election.

Voters will review and decide on eight proposals to amend the charter.

The proposed amendments deal with vacancies, compensation, legislative procedure, director positions, commissions and legal publication.

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If passed, the proposed changes would go into effect in January.

The proposed amendments stem from the latest review of the city’s charter. The reviews are conducted every 10 years by a committee comprised of citizens chosen by each council member or ones that have chosen to volunteer to be on the committee, Council President Marty Hess said. The committee has complete determination on what is given to the voters, according to Hess.

“If they decide something needs to be adjusted or modified, they list them. Towards the end of the time allowed to make the voting requirements time line, they prioritize the list and present that list to council to let any changes to be put on the ballot,” Hess said.

Voters are being asked to consider eight amendments.

  • One proposal is to change how a vacancy on the council is filled to say that when a council member’s seat becomes vacant, the vacancy should remain open until filled by an elected person at the next election, and the newly elected person will complete the vacant term. The charter states currently that if any council member’s seats become vacant, it would be filled by election of a qualified person by a majority vote of remaining council members. If it is not filled within 45 days, the president will fill the vacancy by appointment.
  • A similar proposal is to change how the mayor’s seat is filled should it become vacant. Under the proposal, the council president should succeed to the seat until filled by an elected person at the next election, and the newly elected person will complete the vacant term. The current amendment states that if the mayor’s seat becomes vacant, the president will fill the vacancy to serve the unexpired term.
  • Another proposal is to delete part of the language on compensation that states any changes in salaries of elected officials for the next term must be set at least five days before the last day for filing for candidacy and they cannot be changed during the term.
  • A fourth proposal is to take out a part of the legislative procedure language that states council should not pass an ordinance or resolution that is contrary to the Planning Commission’s recommendation unless by a majority vote, and council may enact ordinances that replace state statutory provisions with respect to property by a majority vote.
  • Two other proposals are to add to two amendments that the removal of the Director of Law and Director of Finance must also be confirmed by council along with the mayor.
  • Another proposal is to add a subsection to the boards and commissions amendment that states a five-member salary commission would be created to determine the mayor and council members' salaries. The members must be an elector in the city and appointed by the mayor, and they cannot be a council member, city employee or immediate family member of either. The commission must include one person from the four city wards and one at-large. Three of the members will serve for two years and two of the members will serve for three years, in which they will take office within 30 days. After that, members of the commission will be appointed to serve for three years and until their successors have been appointed and qualified. It also states that the commission may sometimes elect a chairperson from its membership within 45 days of its creation and every odd numbered year after that, the commission will meet to consider the salaries and compensation of the mayor and council members. The rules of the commission must be set by city council.
  • The last proposal is to add to the publication amendment that states at least once every 90 days, the Clerk of Council must submit a list of legislation to a newspaper of general circulation and/or digitally within the city and post it in the city building and online, but failure to do so will not invalidate an ordinance or resolution.

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How to vote

Champaign County Board of Elections: 1512 South U.S. Hwy 68, Suite L100 Urbana, OH 43078

Oct. 6:

Absentee ballots scheduled to begin being mailed to voters

Early voting begins

Early voting locations:

Champaign County: 1512 South U.S. Hwy 68, Suite L100 Urbana, OH 43078

Early in-person voting hours for October

Oct. 6-9: 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Oct. 12-16: 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Oct. 19-23: 8 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Oct. 24: 8 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Oct. 25: 1 p.m. - 5 p.m.

Oct. 26-30: 8 a.m. - 7 p.m.

Oct. 31: 8 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Early in-person voting hours for November

Nov. 1: 1 p.m. - 5 p.m.

Nov. 2: 8 a.m. - 2 p.m.

Election Day

Nov. 3:

Polls open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Voters are able to drop off absentee ballot at their county board of elections office until 7:30 p.m.

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