Cincinnati voters will likely be asked to approve a Charter amendment this November to clean-up outdated and obsolete language in the document that guides the city's government.
A council committee approved the changes Wednesday and the full Council will vote on the issue next week. A task force started reviewing the document earlier this year and made the recommendations.
One change would delete any reference in the city Charter to the University of Cincinnati and the former General Hospital, both of which used to be owned by the city. Council Member Kevin Flynn said that section no longer applies and is contrary to state law and what has been in place more many years.
But Council Member Wendell Young is concerned deleting the UC references could create a problem in the future. Young said his goal is to do no harm, and if leaving the language in the Charter does not create a problem it should remain.
In the end the proposal the committee approved does strip the university and hospital references from the document.
This is the first of what could be several charter amendments as the task force reviews and updates the document.
Vice Mayor David Mann said the changes should come in one package, not a series of amendment.
“I’ve never understood the particular value of having two rounds of Charter amendments,” Mann said. “It seems to me that it all works better if we can say to the voters ‘there’s been a comprehensive review and these are the changes that the review committee with the support of council recommends.’”
Flynn said the task force discussed how the present the revisions to voters, and decided to proceed with separate proposals.
“It’s easy to find one item that you don’t agree with and vote no on the entire thing,” Flynn said. “In which case, none of these changes get made.”
Future amendments will likely cause more controversy such as changing the powers of the mayor and city council, or weakening the city manager position.
Some council members have expressed concern about how much the ballot issue will cost the city. Acting city solicitor Terry Nestor said it will not be cheap.
“Because there are a lot of changes here that cost might be more than we originally anticipated,” Nestor said. “I think we’re not going to know what that cost is, but if this does go on the ballot there will be a cost associated with the advertising.”
Nestor estimated the cost at between $50,000 and $75,000.
Council must act next week in order for clean-up Charter amendment to be on the November ballot.