CIRCLEVILLE — The Circleville City Charter Commission presented before Circleville City Council at their most recent meeting with Commission Chair Tom Kopec, sharing information on some of the decisions they’ve made following their first few meetings in recent weeks.
A charter is a legal document that can be compared to a constitution. It specifies a form of government for the city and is drafted by local citizens with the idea to strengthen the democratic process and create a more efficient government. Voters in Circleville voted to approve the drafting of a charter last year and also voted in 15 members to the charter commission. Once drafted, voters will then have a “yes” or “no” vote to approve the charter.
Kopec said the charter commission has spent the last few weeks learning about local government and speaking with current and former leaders of Circleville, as well as other similar communities. They’ve not yet dove into constructing the charter, but that process will begin with upcoming meetings. A third step in the process will be educating the public about what the charter is and what Circleville’s proposed charter will eventually contain.
Kopec said the commission had a “spirited discussion” of the charter that was drafted in 2014, with the members of the current commission weighing the pros and cons with it.
“One of the key things that came out of that was education,” he said. “That’s a building block for us…we have a group working on education of a charter. Some of the people who I’ve talked to didn’t understand what they voted for last August. That’s an area that’s going to be a major focus.”
Kopec said they’re nearing the end of the first phase of their plan to learn about Circleville’s current government and ideas.
“The current plan is to understand charter governments and the many different charters that have been written,” he said. “We first took cities of similar size in counties of similar size and looked at how those charters were operating. We talked to different members of those [communities] to understand language in charters.
We’re going to give the voters an idea of what a charter is and what’s in [Circleville’s proposed] charter they’ll be voting on.”
Kopec said they’ve hired an attorney to help draft the charter and thanked council for providing the funds.
“Most of us are not lawyers, but we needed information about the statutes and regulations that apply to them,” he said.
Kopec said once the charter is completed, they’ll have a separate campaign that will be divided from the commission.
“We’ll get the charter framework together and that will come together in the upcoming weeks,” he said.
Kopec said one member would move outside the city limits in December.
“We’ll move forward with 14 and we’ll be okay,” he said. “Looking back to 2014, we had only 12 members. The commission worked well then, so I don’t think that’ll be an issue today.”
Kopec said they meet at the Pickaway County Community Foundation Office and they meet every first and third Thursday of each month and the public is welcome.
“We’re still seeking public input and all the meetings are open to the public and we invite them to come and provide input,” Kopec said after the meeting.