Issue 33: City Charter Amendment

Information on the Proposed Change in Government – Issue 33

On May 14th, 2018, Hilliard City Council approved Ordinance No. 18-09 authorizing the submission of a charter amendment to change the City’s current form of government from “Mayor-City Council” to “City Council-City Manager”. The passage of Ordinance 18-09 shall in no way be interpreted as an endorsement by the whole of City Council to change the City’s form of government; rather it is a decision by the affirming members to let the electorate of Hilliard vote on this matter.

Current Form of Government: Strong Mayor – City Council

Section 1.04 of the Charter for the City of Hilliard, Ohio provides for a strong “Mayor-City Council” form of government. In the “Mayor-City Council” form of government Hilliard voters elect a Mayor to be the Chief Executive Officer of the City and also vote for seven City Council members, thereby creating a separation of powers between the executive (Mayor) and the legislative branch (City Council). The Mayor has the power to introduce legislation to City Council and he/she can declare a public disaster. The Mayor has the authority, and is required to, see that the Charter and the ordinances of the City are faithfully enforced, and to that extent, he/she is the chief law enforcement officer of the City. The contest for the Office of Mayor is partisan and the person elected serves a four-year term.

The Charter does not provide for term limits for the Office of Mayor nor for City Council members. Along with being responsible for the day-to-day management and operations of the City, the Mayor submits a capital improvement budget and operating budget to City Council for its consideration and approval. Upon passage, the Mayor, is then responsible for implementing both budgets, including the capital improvement projects, and updating City Council throughout the year regarding the City’s finances.

Under the City’s current Charter, the Mayor also has the authority to introduce legislation to City Council for its consideration and approval, to implement various aspects of the budgets approved by Council. Under the strong Mayor-Council government, the Mayor has veto power over legislation passed by City Council. Council can, however, override a veto by a two-thirds vote of Council. Under the strong Mayor-Council government, City Council’s role is legislative only – it has no authority to govern the day-to-day operations of the City and it has no administrative powers.

By the passage of legislation, Council authorizes Directors to enter into contracts or to do certain acts, but it has no authority to direct them to do so. Council itself has no authority or power to enter into contracts; rather Council, by legislative action, authorizes the Mayor or Directors of the City to enter into contracts for the City’s various projects and purposes. The Mayor has the power to hear and decide misdemeanor cases coming before Hilliard’s Mayor’s Court, or he/she can appoint a Magistrate to do so, with the advice and consent of City Council. Per the Charter, the Mayor is the hiring and firing authority for the City and he/she appoints the Directors for the City’s various departments. For the departments of Finance, Law and Safety, the Mayor’s appointments are subject to the advice and consent of City Council. The Mayor serves at the pleasure of the City’s residents by election and recall procedures set forth in the Charter.

Issue 33: Form of Government Would Change

If passed, Issue 33 would change the City’s government to a “City Council-City Manager” form of government. Under this form, Hilliard voters would continue to elect members to City Council, who then, by a 2/3 affirmative vote, would appoint a City Manager to be the Chief Administrative/Executive Officer of the City. The City Manager would report directly to City Council and he/she implements the City’s operating and capital budgets as approved by City Council, and implements policies as directed by Council.

In this form of government, Council can direct that the City Manger enter into contracts or perform certain acts on behalf of the City. At an organizational meeting of City Council, members would elect a President of Council, who would also serve as the City’s Mayor, and the City Council member elected as Vice President would serve as the City’s Vice Mayor.

Under the City Manager form of government, the Mayor would serve in a ceremonial capacity and would have no veto power over legislation passed by Council. The Mayor would also appoint a Magistrate to hear and decide misdemeanor cases in Hilliard’s Mayor’s Court, subject to the approval of a majority of City Council members. If the person serving as Mayor is a licensed attorney, he/she may act as Magistrate subject to the approval of City Council. The City Manager serves at the pleasure of City Council. There is no right of recall to the City’s residents to recall or vote out a City Manager from their position.

Other Changes Proposed to the Charter in Issue 33

Administrative Departments

All Department Directors would be hired and fired by the City Manager and Director positions are subject to the approval of City Council. It also proposes to enhance and refine the duties of certain Directors.

Merit System

The changes include the adoption of a merit system, whereby all appointments and promotions of employees of the City will be made according to merit and fitness through a competitive selection process. City Council is responsible for establishing a Code of Practices and Procedures to define and govern this merit system. Additionally, a Personnel Review Board is established which will have the power to hear appeals by City employees from administrative determinations made pursuant to the Code of Practices and Procedures. The proposed Charter amendment would eliminate the City’s Civil Service Commission.

Planning and Zoning Commission

Upon changing to the “City Council-City Manager” form of government, the 7 members of the City’s Planning and Zoning Commission would be appointed by City Council. Under the current form, the Mayor appoints 6 members to the Commission, subject to the approval of City Council, and the Mayor, or his/her designee, also serves as a member of the Commission.

If approved, when would the change in government take effect?

If approved by voters at the November 6th, 2018, election, the change in form of government would take effect on January 1st, 2020. In the meantime, the amended Charter would authorize City Council to direct the City’s Director of Human Resources to engage the services of a professional search firm to secure qualified candidates for the City Manager position. City Council would also have the authority to direct the Director of Human Resources to enter into a contract with the selected candidate for City Manager. Until January 1st, 2020, the City’s Strong Mayor-City Council form of government would continue in place. The Mayor’s current term of office expires at midnight on December 31st, 2019.

Frequently Asked Questions Strong Mayor-City Council Form of Government City Council-City Manager Form of Government
Who appoints department directors? In a “Strong Mayor-City Council” the Mayor appoints Directors of Law, Finance, and Safety, with advice and consent from City Council. All other Directors are appointed by the Mayor alone. In a “City Council-City Manager” the City Manager appoints Directors, there is no City Council involvement.
Who establishes various policies of the City? In a “Strong Mayor-City Council” City Council establishes various policies by enacting legislation. In “City Council-City Manager” City Council establishes various policies by enacting legislation.
Who manages the day-to-day activities and operations of the City? In a “Strong Mayor-City Council” the Mayor does. In a “City Council-City Manager” the City Manager does.
Who has authority to bind the City by executing contracts? In a “Strong Mayor-City Council” the Mayor and Department Directors. In a “City Council-City Manager” the City Manager.
Who passes legislation? In a “Strong Mayor-City Council” City Council does. In a “City Council-City Manager” City Council does.
Who hires and fires City employees? In a “Strong Mayor-City Council” the Mayor does. In a “City Council-City Manager” City Manager does.
Can the Mayor veto legislation? In a “Strong Mayor-City Council” the Mayor can. In a “City Council-City Manager” the Mayor cannot.
Is there a merit-based employment procedure? In a “Strong Mayor-City Council” yes, through rules adopted by Council for a Civil Service Commission. In a “City Council-City Manager” yes, by the creation of a Code of Practices and Procedures by City Council.