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Charter Commission Eyes Changes to Government Spending

The idea behind the charter commission is to decide whether certain aspects of the city's governing document need some updating.

A group of residents has begun the process of re-examining Brecksville’s charter.

The idea is to decide whether certain aspects of the city's governing document that need some updating.

The new commission began its review last month, and recently hosted another meeting.

One of the first items of business is to see whether the city should change the spending limit — without city council approval — from $3,000.

“When I first became mayor, the spending limit was $500,” said Mayor Jerry Hruby at the Conversation With the Mayor event on Tuesday. “The government couldn’t spend $500 unless the council approved the expenditure.”

However in recent years, the charter commission has upped the limit to $3,000.

Compare that to the state limit of $25,000.

“There is no way that the city of Brecksville is going to allow any of us to spend $25,000 without going to city council,” Hruby said. “I don’t support it and wouldn’t support it. But we’ll find some number that works.

“I think something below $10,000 will work.”

The charter review process takes place every 10 years. The nine members, plus an alternate, are private citizens who are not currently involved in the government. The members are appointed by the mayor and approved by council.

This year, the administration tried to choose members who represented average citizens, but also had different skill sets, Hruby recently said. There are members with specialties in finance, business, law and technology on this commission.

This charter commission is also considering changes to the qualifications for the city finance director post.

“I think we should leave it up to council to decide,” Hruby said.

Another topic is changes to the zoning code, but Hruby said there aren’t likely to be any changes in the charter on that subject.

“I don’t know that there are going to be a lot of changes,” he added.

The members discuss all aspects of the city’s charter, which is like its constitution. They also have time to talk with council and the administration and find out what’s working and what’s not. They will then make recommendations, which council has to put on the November 2013 ballot for voters to decide. Each potential change gets voted on individually. 

The meetings are open to the public.

But the meetings haven’t been very well attended. 

“Much to our chagrin, at the first two meetings, nobody showed up,” said Hruby. “This fall you’ll be voting on whatever recommendations they make.”

To learn more about the members of the commission or to see the agenda, visit the city’s website.

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