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On Tuesday, Nov. 8, Columbus residents will have the opportunity to approve three Charter Amendments that will improve the ballot initiative process; speed the hiring of diverse and qualified City employees and update job titles and responsibilities; and modernize public meetings and offices.

WHAT IS THE CHARTER?

The Charter is the City’s constitution. It sets the framework for the laws that are enacted by Council into the City Code. The original Charter was enacted in 1914 and has since been amended many times. The Charter can only be amended by a vote of Columbus residents.

CHARTER REVIEW COMMISSION

Until recently, charter review commissions were appointed on an as-needed basis to review the Charter and make recommendations for amendments. In 2014, voters approved a charter amendment requiring a review of the Charter every 10 years, beginning in 2022. In January, the City appointed a Charter Review Commission which held 13 public meetings, including two hearings for public comment during which residents had the opportunity to present their own proposals. In July, the Commission submitted its recommendations to Columbus City Council. Council accepted the Commission’s recommendations in full and voted to place three issues on the November general election ballot.

Issue 19: Improving the Initiative Process to Place an Issue on the Ballot

Clearer, more open ballot issues: Issue 19 will prevent special interest groups from placing an issue on the ballot without disclosing who will benefit financially and how much money they will receive within the first three years if the issue were to be approved.

Simplify signature collection: Issue 19 will also expand the time allotted for signature gathering to two years and add a 10-day curing period if the initial petition falls short of the required signatures.

Issue 20: Hiring Qualified, Diverse Employees - Updating Job Titles, Responsibilities

Speed the hiring of qualified, diverse City employees: Issue 20 will maintain the objective, skills-based testing required to secure City employment but will allow for flexibility in how test scores are ordered, or “banded,” to allow the City to hire qualified, diverse candidates faster. Issue 20 does NOT eliminate Civil Service Commission testing or lower standards to be hired by the City.

Align the Charter with state law, updating job titles and responsibilities: Issue 20 will also update the Charter to reflect changes in Ohio laws, clarify job classifications and titles for certain employees, and expand the number of cabinet members who may temporarily serve as acting Mayor.

Issue 21: Modernizing Public Meetings and Offices

Increase access to public meetings: Issue 21 will allow the city to hold meetings virtually in limited circumstances as determined by ordinance of City Council.

Modernize the City Auditor’s Office: Issue 21 will allow the City Auditor to better utilize modern technology to perform transactions and update the functions of the office to align with state law.