The City of Wooster, Ohio established its governing charter in 1972. Every ten years, a commission is appointed by the Council (in consultation with the Mayor) in order to make amendment recommendations to the electorate. I recently had the pleasure to serve on the 2010 edition of the Wooster Charter Review Commission and the voters accepted all five of our recommendations.
1. Compensation Commission
We felt that it was important that the salaries of our elected officials be as removed from politics as possible. We therefore recommended that every four years a nine-member commission be established to “review and make recommendations” regarding the salaries of the Mayor and members of Council.
2. Vacancies in Office
The Commission attempted to clean up the procedure for filling a vacancy in the offices of the President of Council and the Mayor, requiring a new election to coincide with the next primary or general election if more than one year remains in the term in question.
3. The Director of Administration
As a Mayor-Administrator-Council form of government, Wooster’s appointed City Administrator essentially runs the day-to-day operations of the City. We felt that the language of the Charter was dated and did not reflect the actual powers and responsibilities of our current Administrator. The amended charter now utilizes language recommended by the current city administration in order to maximize flexibility.
4. Commissions and Boards
Seeking a middle ground between wanting experienced citizens sitting on commissions and boards, and also wanting to provide openings for fresh perspectives over the years, we decided to recommend that Council “adopt rules by which membership on a commission or board will be limited to no more than twelve (12) consecutive years per appointee.”
5. General Provisions
There were a number of housekeeping and legal changes made at the behest of citizens, commission members, and the city’s Law Director. These changes included instituting gender-neutral language throughout the Charter and a simple clean up of legal terms to bring the Charter more in line with Ohio law.
As a government teacher, I very rarely have the opportunity to practice what I teach. Serving on the 2010 Wooster Charter Review Commission was an absolute honor for me. I can only hope that the voters’ ratification of our proposed amendments indicates that we did our jobs – and did them well.
“City of Wooster, Ohio Charter.” Woosteroh.com