The Charter of the City of Ashtabula, Ohio
We, the people of the City Ashtabula, in the County of Ashtabula, State of Ohio, in order to secure the benefits of municipal home rule and local self-government under the Constitution and Laws of the State of Ohio, do hereby adopt this Charter. This charter shall take effect December 1, 2005.
Name and Boundaries
The City now existing in the County of Ashtabula, State of Ohio and known as Ashtabula, shall continue to be a body politic and corporate under the name of the City of Ashtabula, with the same boundaries as now exist, but with power and authority to change its boundaries in the manner authorized by the laws of Ohio.
All the powers of the City, except as otherwise provided by this Charter or by the Constitution of the State of Ohio, are hereby vested in a Council to consist of not less than six members, one of whom shall be elected from each ward, and one shall be elected at large as ; and, except as otherwise prescribed by this Charter or by the Constitution of the State of Ohio, the Council may by ordinance or resolution prescribe the manner in which any power of the City of Ashtabula shall be exercised in the manner now hereafter prescribed by the general laws of the State of Ohio applicable to municipalities.
Council shall subdivide the City into five wards of adjacent and compact territory with as well as nearly equal population as practicable, and after each recurring Federal Census shall be subdivide said five wards to the extent and in the manner prescribed by general law for increasing the number of wards upon the basis of population and/or annexation.
Term of Office
Members of Council shall hold their office for four (4) years beginning December 1st of their election in 2005 except the members of Council from Wards 1 and 2 shall hold their office for four (4) years beginning December 1st of their election in 2007.
Each member of Council shall have been for at least one (1) year immediately prior to his or her election, and during his term of office shall continue to be resident of the City and a qualified elector thereof. He or she shall not hold any other office except as otherwise provided in this Charter or ordinance, and that of Notary Public or of membership in the State Militia, or the Reserve Corps of the United States. Each Ward Councilman shall have been at the time of the filing of his declaration of candidacy, and during his term of office shall continue to be, a resident of the Ward which he or she represents. Each councilman must have a high school diploma or GED.
No employee of the city of Ashtabula can be appointed or elected to a city elected public office unless his or her employment has been terminated from the city for at least one year.
Any vacancy in the Council shall be filled for the unexpired term in the manner provided by the general laws of the State of Ohio now in force or as hereafter amended.
Each member of the council, except the Vice-Mayor, shall receive a salary of $2,500.00 per year, and the Vice-Mayor shall receive a salary of $3,000.00 per year, payable in equal monthly installments.
The Council shall appoint, by a majority vote of its members, a person to serve as the Clerk of Council. The Clerk of Council shall serve at the pleasure of the Council and may be removed without cause by a majority vote of two-thirds of the council.
The Clerk of Council may hold no other office or position of employment in the city. The Clerk of Council shall have those powers, duties and functions as are provided in this Charter, by the rules of council or by ordinance or resolution. Included in the duties of the Clerk of Council shall be the maintenance of a record of proceedings of the Council and a record of all ordinances and resolutions adopted by the Council. The Clerk of Council shall give notice of regular and special meetings of the Council to its members and to the public as may be provided by this Charter, the rules of Council or by ordinance or resolution. The Clerk of Council shall be subject to the supervision and control of the officers of the Council.
The Council shall appoint, by a majority vote of its members, a person to serve as the President of Council. The President of Council shall be a member of Council that has served at least one year immediately prior as a member of Council. The appointed President shall serve for a term of two years. The President of Council shall receive two hundred dollars per year in addition to his or her council salary.
The duty of the President of Council is to take the place of the Vice-Mayor in case of absence but shall not succeed the Mayor in the case of the death, disqualification, removal or resignation of the Mayor.
Times of Meeting; Rules; Journals
At 6:30 p. m. on the first day of December following a regular municipal election, or if such day fall on Sunday, on the day following, the Council shall meet at the usual place for holding the meeting of the legislative body of the City for the purpose of organization. Thereafter the council shall meet at such times as may be prescribed by ordinance or resolution, except that it shall meet regularly not less than the first and third Tuesdays of each month. The Vice-Mayor, any two members of the Council, or the Mayor, may call special meetings of the Council, upon at least twelve (12) hours written notice to each member served personally or left at his usual place of residence. The Council shall determine its own rules and order of business and shall keep a journal of its proceedings. Executive sessions may be held and shall be governed by Section 121.22 of the Ohio Revised Code.
Vice-Mayor - Duties
The Vice-Mayor shall be elected at large. The Vice-Mayor shall preside at all meeting of the Council, and perform such other duties consistent with his or her office as may be imposed by it; and he or she shall have a voice in its proceeding, but no veto. If the Vice-Mayor be temporarily absent from the City, or becomes temporarily disabled from any cause, his duties shall be performed during such absence or disability by the President. In the absence of both Vice-Mayor and President of Council, the other members of Council shall appoint one of their members to perform the duties of Vice-Mayor.
In the case of the death, disqualification, removal or resignation of the Mayor, the Vice-Mayor shall become the Mayor and that individual shall serve as Mayor for the remaining unexpired term.
The President of Council at the time this charter takes effect shall take the office of Vice-Mayor and shall serve out his or her remaining term as Vice-Mayor. The Vice Mayor shall be elected starting in November 2007 and shall serve a term of four years commencing December 1, 2007.
Penalty for Absence
For each absence of a member of Council from a regular meeting of the Council, there shall be deducted a sum equal to 2% of the annual salary of such member without a valid excuse. A valid excuse would be defined as medical doctor’s excuse or a death in the immediate family. Absence from three (3) consecutive regular meetings or five (5) regular council meetings within a year without a valid excuse shall operate to vacate the seat of a member.
The legislative action of Council shall be by ordinance or resolution, provided that this shall not apply to action accepting a bid for work and directing the appropriate officer to enter into a contract, to action ordering the dismissal of an officer, to action ordering an election, or to action directing an officer or board to furnish the Council with information as to affairs of any office, department, or board.
A majority of all members elected to the Council shall be a quorum, but a less number may adjourn from day to day and compel the attendance of absent members in such manner and under such penalties as may be prescribed by ordinance. The affirmative vote of at least four (4) members shall be necessary to adopt any ordinance or resolution; and the vote upon the passage of all ordinances and resolutions shall be taken by “yeas” and “nays” and entered upon the journal.
Each propose ordinance or resolution shall be introduced in written form, and shall not contain more than one subject, which shall be clearly stated in the title, but general appropriation ordinances may contain the various subjects and accounts for which moneys are to be appropriated. The enacting clause of all ordinances passed by the Council shall be: “Be it ordained by the Council of the City of Ashtabula, Ohio.” The enacting clause of all ordinances submitted to popular election by the initiative shall be: “Be it ordained by the popular of the City of Ashtabula, Ohio.”
No ordinance shall be passed until it has been read at 2 regular meeting not less than one week apart, or the requirement of such reading has been dispensed with by the vote of at least five (5) members of the Council. No ordinance or resolution of section thereof shall be resolution or section or amended; and the original ordinance, resolution, section or sections so amended shall be repealed.
All ordinances and resolutions passed by Council shall be in effect on and after the 30th day from the date of their passage except that Council may pass measures to take effect at the time indicated thereon (immediately or otherwise) by a vote of five (4) members or more.
Record and Publication
Every ordinance or resolution upon its final passage shall be recorded in a book kept for that purpose, and shall be authenticated by the signature of the presiding officer and the Clerk of Council. Every ordinance or resolution of a general or permanent nature shall be published once within ten (10) days after its final passage in the manner hereinafter provided; except that whenever the passage of more than one ordinance resolution is required by law to complete the legislation necessary to make and pay for any public improvements, the provisions of the section shall apply only to the first ordinance or resolution required to be passed, and not to any subsequent ordinance or resolution relating thereto, provided that before issuing bonds to pay for any public improvements Council may publish a notice headed “Notice of Bond Issue for Public Improvement”, describing said improvements in general terms and setting forth within what time assessments on property specially benefited may be paid in cash, and for what period of time and at what rate of interest bonds will be issued for that portion of the assessment not so paid.
Times of Publication
Advertisements for bids for work and notices of the sale or lease of real estate or sale of personal property shall be published once a week for not less than two (2) nor than four (4) consecutive weeks; proclamations of elections, such number of times as provided by law; and all other matters, once.
Price and Mode of Publication
All the above mentioned publications, as well as all other newspaper publications made by the City, except as hereinafter provided, shall be published in one newspaper of general circulation in the City, printed in the English language, to be designated by the Council. Before designating the newspaper to carry such publications, the Council shall request all such newspapers to submit sealed bids for such publishing together with their published rate card for commercial advertising, and sworn statement of their bona fide net paid circulation within the City of Ashtabula, and in making such designation the Council shall take into consideration both the rate and circulation of the newspaper, and the City shall thereupon enter into a contract with the newspaper so designated for such period of time, not exceeding 3 years, as Council shall determine.
All such publications shall be set solid in the regular reading type of the newspaper so designated, but not larger than 8-point type and 9-point body, with an 18-point headline specifying the nature of the publication; provided that the order of Council special notices or advertising may be set in larger type than above specified, and notices of the sale of bonds may be published in such publications shall be paid for the quantity of space used at a rate no higher than it charges for the same space for commercial display advertising. Whenever it may appear to the Council that the rates offered by such newspapers are unfair, such other means of securing due publicity may be employed, in the lieu of newspaper advertising, as the Council may by resolution determine.
Salaries and Bonds
The Council shall fix by ordinance the salary rate of compensation of all officers and employees of the City entitled to compensation except as otherwise provided in this Charter; but this shall not prevent the City from securing the services of special or temporary employees who shall receive such compensation as may be agreed upon, and approved by Council. Council may require any officer or employee to give a bond for the faithful performance of his duty, in such an amount as it may determine, and it may provide that the premium thereof shall be paid by the city.
No member of the Council, the Mayor, or any other officer or employee of the City; shall be directly or indirectly interested in the contract, job, work, or service with or for the City; nor in the profits or emoluments thereof, nor in the expenditure of any money on the part of the City, other than his or her fixed compensation; and any contract with the City in which any such officer or employee is, or becomes, interested may be declared void by the Council.
No member of the Council, the Mayor, or other officer or employee of the City shall knowingly accept any gift, frank, free ticket, pass, reduced price, or reduced rate of service from any person, firm, or corporation operating a public utility or engaged in business of a public nature within the City, or from any person known to him to have or to be endeavoring to secure a contract with the City; but the provisions of this section shall not apply to the transportation of policemen or firemen in uniform or wearing their official badges, when the same is provided for by ordinance.
Initiative and Referendum
Any proposed ordinance may be submitted to the Council by petition signed by electors of the City equal in number to ten percent (10%) of the total number of registered electors therein. All petition papers, circulated with respect to any proposed ordinance, shall be uniform in character, and shall contain the proposed ordinance in full, and the names and addresses of at least three (3) electors who shall be officially regarded as filing the petition and shall constitute a committee of the petitioners for that purpose hereinafter named.
Each signer of a petition shall sign his name in ink or indelible pencil, and shall place on the petition paper after his name his place of residence by street and number, and the date of signing. The signature to any such petition need not all be appended to one paper but to each such paper to such part of the petition and that signature appended to the paper is the genuine signature of the person whose name it purports to be, and was made in the presence of the affiant and on the date indicated. No person shall sign more than one petition paper for the same purpose.
Before any ordinance so proposed shall be submitted to the Council, its form shall be approved by the City Solicitor, who shall endorse his approval thereon; and it shall be the duty of the City Solicitor to draft any such proposed ordinance in proper legal language and to render such other services to persons desiring to propose such ordinance as shall be necessary to make the same proper for consideration by the Council.
All papers comprising a petition shall be assembled and filed with Clerk of Council as one instrument within one hundred twenty (120) days from the date of the first signature thereon. Within ten (10) days from the filing of such petition the Clerk shall endorse thereon a certificate showing the number of signature of qualified electors contained therein and the number required.
If the Clerk’s certificate shows that the petition is insufficient, he or she shall at once notify each member of the committee of the petitioners, hereinbefore provided for, and the petition may be supplemented at any time within fifteen (15) days from the date of such notification by filing with the Clerk an additional petition paper or papers in the same manner as provided for the original petition.
Upon the filing of such supplemental petition the Clerk shall, within ten (10) days thereafter, attach thereto his certificate as hereinbefore required. If the petition as so supplemented is still insufficient or if no supplement shall have been filed, the Clerk shall file the petition in his office and shall notify each member of the committee of that fact. The final finding of the insufficiency of a petition shall not prejudice the filing of a new petition for the same purpose.
When the certificate of the Clerk shows the petition to be sufficient, he or she shall submit the proposed ordinance to the Council at its next regular meeting and the Council shall take final action thereon within thirty (30) days from the date of such submission. If the Council rejects the proposed ordinance, or passes it in a form different from that set forth in the petition, the committee of the petitioners may require that it be submitted to a vote of the electors in its original form, or that it be submitted to a vote of the electors with any proposed change, addition, or amendment, which was presented to Council in writing by said committee during the consideration thereof by the Council.
When an ordinance proposed by petition is to be submitted to a vote of the electors the committee of the petitioners shall certify that fact and that proposed ordinance to the Clerk of the Council within forty (40) days after the submission of such proposed ordinance to the Council.
Upon receipt of the certificate and certified copy of the proposed ordinance, the Clerk shall certify that fact to the Council at its next regular meeting. If no election is to be held within six (6) months and more than thirty (30) days after the receipt of the Clerk’s certificate by the Council, the Council may provide for submitting the proposed ordinance to the electors at a special election. If a supplemental petition, signed by electors equal in number to twenty-five (25) percent of the total number of registered electors in the Municipality other than and in addition to those who signed the original petition, be filed with the Clerk asking that the proposed ordinance be submitted to the voters at a time indicated in such petition, the Council shall provide for a special election at such time. The sufficiency of any petition shall be determined, and it may be supplemented, in a manner hereinbefore provided for original petitions for proposing ordinances to the Council. If no other provision be made as to the time of submitting a proposed ordinance to a vote of the electors, it shall be submitted at the next election.
The ballots used when voting upon any such proposed ordinance shall state the title of the ordinance to be voted on and below it the two propositions, “For the Ordinance” and “Against the Ordinance”. If a majority of the qualified electors voting on any such proposed ordinance shall vote in favor thereof, it shall thereupon become an ordinance of the City.
No ordinance adopted by an electoral vote shall be repealed or amended except by an electoral vote, but an ordinance to repeal or amend any such ordinance, may by resolution of the Council, be submitted to an electoral vote on the day of any regular or special election or at a special municipal election called for that purpose, provided notice of the intention so to do be published by Council not more than sixty (60) nor less than thirty (30) days prior to such election in the manner required for the publication of ordinances. If an amendment is so proposed, such notice shall contain the proposed amendment in full. Such submission shall be in the same manner, and the vote shall have the same effect, as in cases of ordinances submitted to an election by popular petition.
Proposed ordinances for repealing any existing ordinance or ordinances in whole or in part, or amending the same, may be submitted to the Council as provided in the preceding sections for initiating ordinances.
Election and Term of Office
The Mayor shall be elected from the City at large to a four year term of office, commencing with the election to be held in November, 2005. The Mayor’s term shall commence on the first day of December following his or her election.
Candidates for the office of Mayor shall have been an elector of the City for at least two years immediately prior to the Municipal election at which they seek to be elected. The Mayor must also have a high school diploma or a GED.
The Mayor shall be a full-time official of the City and shall not hold any other full-time public or private employment or any part-time public or private employment that could in any way interfere with his or her being available day or night, to fulfill the position of Mayor.
Powers, Duties and Functions
A. The Mayor shall be chief executive, administrative and law enforcement officer of the City, and shall be responsible for and have the authority to administer and generally control, direct and supervise all administrative departments, divisions and sub-unites thereof, except the office of City Solicitor. The Mayor shall enforce the provisions of this Charter and the ordinances and resolutions of the City pertaining to matters subject to the Mayor’s direction, control and supervision. The Mayor shall not usurp or interfere with the exercise of powers, duties and functions of other elected officers of the city; rather, the Mayor shall cooperate fully with such other elected officials to assure the orderly and efficient management of the City.
B. The right and duty to attend all meetings of the Council, to participate in the discussions on any matters before the Council and to introduce ordinances. The Mayor shall not be entitled to vote on any matters before the Council unless there is a tie vote. The Mayor then would have the deciding vote.
C. The right to veto the passage of all legislation passed by the Council. When said Mayor shall have exercised his right of veto within ten (10) days after the final passage of any ordinance by the Council, the ordinance shall not become effective.
The Mayor’s veto, however, may be overcome by not less than two-thirds vote of all members of Council, and the ordinance then made and voted for by not less than two-thirds vote of Council as aforesaid shall become effective as an ordinance then made and voted for by not less than two-thirds vote of Council as aforesaid shall become effective as an ordinance of the City, and the two-thirds of the members of council.
D. To appoint, promote, remove, suspend or otherwise discipline all officers and employees in the classified and unclassified service of the City, subject to the provisions of this Charter relating to Civil Service; provided the Mayor shall not exercise such authority and powers over elected officials, the employees of the Council, employees of the City Solicitor’s office and in instances where this Charter provides for another officer or body to exercise such authority and powers.
E. To prepare and submit to the Council the annual budget, appropriation measures and capital programs of the city.
F. To prepare and submit to the Council on or before the first day of November of each year, and to make available to the general public, a complete report of the administrative activities and programs of the City which are under his general direction, control and supervision for the prior year.
G. To make such reports as the Council may require concerning the operation and programs of the administrative departments, divisions or sub-units thereof, and any Boards or Commissions of the City which are under the Mayor’s general direction, control and supervision.
H. To keep the council fully advised concerning the present condition and future needs of the City and to make any recommendations to the Council concerning the affairs of the City as the Mayor deems desirable.
I. To enforce all terms and conditions imposed in favor of the City or its inhabitants in any franchise or contract to which the City is a party, and to see that they are faithfully kept and performed.
J. The Mayor shall be recognized as the head of the City government by the President and other officers of the United States and the Governor and other officers of the State of Ohio for military purposes.
K. To exercise all judicial powers and functions granted to Mayors of municipal corporations by the laws of Ohio and applicable court rules.
L. To affix to all official documents and instruments of the City of the Mayor’s seal, which shall be the seal of the City, but the absence of the seal shall not affect the validity of any document or instrument.
M. To perform such other powers, duties and functions as provided under this Charter, the City’s ordinances and resolutions, and the laws of Ohio, to the extent that such laws are consistent with this Charter and the City’s ordinances and resolutions.
The Mayor shall receive such salary as may be fixed by ordinance of the Council.
Head of Departments
Excepting the department of City Solicitor, the Mayor shall be acting head of each and every department or division of the City; he or she may appoint a deputy or chief clerk to represent him in any department or division of which he is acting head. No member of the Council shall interfere with the conduct of any department or division, or order any service or report therefrom except at the express order of Council.
The Mayor shall be the Platting Commissioner of the City and shall exercise the authority and discharge the duties of that office under the provisions of the general law of the State of Ohio applicable thereto.
The City Solicitor shall be an attorney-at-law admitted to practice in the State of Ohio and be an elector of the City, and shall be a qualified elector therein prior to his or her election, and shall have such assistants of like qualifications as the Council may authorize. The City Solicitor shall be the legal adviser of and attorney and counsel for the Municipality, and for all officers and departments thereof in matters relating to their official duties. He shall prepare all contracts, bonds, and other instruments in writing in which the Municipality is concerned, and shall endorse on each his or her approval of the form and correctness thereof; and no such contract with the City shall take effect until his or her approval is endorsed thereof. He and his Assistants shall be the prosecuting attorney of the Municipal Court, and he shall perform such other duties as the Council shall require.
The City Solicitor shall be nominated and elected by the legal voters of the City at the regular municipal election for a term of four years; and, except as hereinafter set forth, shall serve until his successor is elected and qualified. He or she, the City Solicitor, shall be nominated and elected in the same manner as is provided in the present Charter of the City of Ashtabula for elective officers of the City and shall be nominated in the same manner as is provided for nomination of candidates for councilman-at-large.
The City Solicitor shall not be removed from office during his elective term, except in manner provided by the general laws of Ohio, applicable to cities of the State. The City Solicitor when elected and before entering upon his duties shall give bond to the City of Ashtabula in the sum of $1,500, the said bond to provide for the faithful performance of his duties as City Solicitor and to be approved by the City Council.
During temporary or permanent vacancies in the office of City Solicitor, a successor with the same qualifications as required of candidates for City Solicitor of the City, shall be appointed by the Mayor.
The City Auditor shall issue all warrants for the payment of money by the City. He shall keep an accurate account of all taxes and assessments, of all money due to, and of all receipts and disbursements by the Municipality, of all its assets and liabilities, and of all appropriations made by the Council. At the end of each fiscal year, and oftener if required by the Council , he or she audit the accounts of the several departments and officers, and shall require reports from each department at such stated intervals and such other times as he or she may deem necessary, showing all moneys received by such departments and the disposition thereof. Upon the death, resignation, removal, or expiration of the term of any officer, the City Auditor shall audit the accounts of such officer, and if such officer shall be found indebted to the Municipality he or she shall immediately give notice to the City Council and the City Solicitor; and the latter shall forthwith proceed to collect the same.
The City Treasure shall be the custodian of all moneys of the Municipality, and shall keep and preserve the same in such the same manner and in such place or places as shall be determined by the Mayor. He or she shall pay out money only on warrants issued by the City Auditor.
The Purchasing Agent shall purchase all supplies for the City, and approve all vouchers for the payment of the same. He or she shall also conduct all sales of personal property which the Council may authorize to be sold as having become unnecessary or unfit for the City’s use.
All purchases and sales shall conform to such to such regulations as the Council may from time to time prescribe; but in either case, if any amount in excess of $2,000 is involved, opportunity for competition shall be given. Where purchases or sales are made on joint account of separate departments, the Purchasing Agent shall apportion the charge or credit to each department, He or she shall see to the delivery of supplies to each department, and take and retain the receipt of each department therefore.
All purchases of supplies or labor not from a city employee of non-bid purchases shall be made from a business or person located or resides inside the city limits of Ashtabula. If a purchase of a non-bid item or labor can not be found inside the city limits of Ashtabula, then a vote could be taken to purchase an item(s) or labor from outside the city limits of Ashtabula by a two thirds majority of the council which shall include the Mayors vote.
The Mayor shall act as Purchasing Agent.
Residence and Educational Requirements for City Employees
All City employees hired after this Charter takes effect will have to be a resident of the City of Ashtabula or Ashtabula Township. If the City employee moves out of the City of Ashtabula or Ashtabula Township, his or her employment shall be terminated.
All City employees hired after this Charter takes effect must have a high school diploma or GED.
Parks and Recreation Director
Upon the approval of this Charter by the electors of the City of Ashtabula, the Mayor shall appoint a Parks and Recreation Director(s) for the Parks and Recreation Department to be organized when this charter takes effect.
The Civil Service Commission
The Mayor shall appoint three (3) persons, one for a term of two (2) years, one for four (4) years, and one for six (6) years, who shall constitute the Civil Service Commission for the City of Ashtabula, the Ashtabula School District, and the Ashtabula City Health District, provided that members of the existing Civil Service Commission shall continue in office for the term for which they have been appointed and until their successors are appointed and qualified. Each alternative year thereafter the Mayor shall
appoint one person as successor to the member whose term expires to serve six (6) years and until his successor is appointed and qualified. A vacancy shall be filled by Mayor for the unexpired term. At the time of each appointment not more than two (2) Commissioners shall be adherents of the same political party.
The Mayor may at any time remove any Commissioner for inefficiency, neglect of duty, or malfeasance in office, having first given to such Commissioner a copy of the charges against him and an opportunity to be publicly heard in person or by counsel, in his own defense; and any pertaining thereto, shall be governed by general laws of
the State applicable thereto.
Appointments and Removals
Appointments and promotions in the Civil Service of the City shall be made according to merit and fitness, to be ascertained, as far as practicable, by competitive examinations. Ordinances may be passed to enforce this provision, to fix the powers and duties of the Commission, and to prescribe rules and regulations governing the Civil Service and determining the method by which persons in the Civil Service may be promoted, transferred, reduced or discharged according to law in the accordance with such ordinances.
Civil Service Commission Qualifications; Organization; Funding
Those persons appointed as members of the Civil Service Commission shall be electors of the City. At its first meeting each year the members of the Commission elect a chairman of said Commission who shall preside at all meeting and hearing of the Commission. The Commission shall approach Council with a tentative budget each July 1st outlining anticipated expenses in the coming year. Each September 1st Council shall notify the Commission of the intended amount that they will approve when the amended certificate arrives.
Nomination of Candidates
The nomination of candidates for elective offices of the City shall be made in the manner provided by the general laws of the State of Ohio now in force or as hereafter amended, except that primary elections for the nominations of such candidates shall be held on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in May in the odd-numbered years. Declaration of candidacy and petitions and nominating petitions for such offices shall be filed not later than 4:00 p.m. of the 75th day before the day of such primary election.
The form, type, use and application of the ballots in all municipal elections shall be in the manner provided by the general laws of the State of Ohio now in force or as hereafter amended.
The casting, counting and results of the ballots shall be in the manner provided by the general laws of the State of Ohio now in force or as hereafter amended.
General Laws to Apply
All elections shall be conducted by the election authorities in the manner provided by the general laws of the State of Ohio now in force or as hereafter amended.
The fiscal year of the City shall begin on the first day of January. On or before the first day of November of each year the Mayor shall submit to the Council an estimate of the expenditures and revenues of the City departments for the ensuing year. This estimate shall be compiled from detailed information obtained from the several departments on uniform blanks to be furnished by the Mayor. The classification of the estimate of expenditures shall be nearly uniform as possible for the main functional divisions of all departments, and shall give in parallel columns the following information:
A. A detailed estimate of the expense of conducting each department as submitted by the department.
B. Expenditures for the items for the last two (2) fiscal years.
C. Expenditures for corresponding items for the current fiscal year, including adjustments due to transfers between appropriations plus an estimate of expenditures necessary to complete the current fiscal year.
D. Amount of supplies and material on hand at the date of the preparation of the invoice.
E. Increase or decrease of requests compared with the corresponding appropriations for the current year.
F. Such other information as is required by the council or that the Mayor may deem advisable to submit.
G. The recommendations of the Mayor as to the amount to be appropriated with reasons therefore in such detail as the Council may direct.
Sufficient copies of such estimates shall be prepared and submitted, that there may be copies on file in the office of the Clerk of Council for inspection by the public.
Upon receipt of such estimate, the Council shall prepare an appropriation ordinance, but before finally acting upon such tentative appropriation, it shall give public notice of such hearing. The council shall not pass the appropriation ordinance until ten (10) days after such public hearing.
Transfer of Funds
Upon requests of the Mayor, the Council may transfer any part of an unencumbered balance of an appropriation to a purpose or object for which appropriation for the current year has proved insufficient or may authorize a transfer to be made between items appropriated to the same office or department.
At the close of each fiscal year, the unencumbered balance of each appropriation shall revert to the respective fund from which it was appropriated and shall be subject to future appropriations. Any accruing revenue of the City, not as hereinbefore provided, and any balances at any time remaining after the purposes of the appropriation shall have been satisfied or abandoned, may from time to time be appropriated by the Council to such uses as will not conflict with any uses for which such revenues specifically accrued. No money shall be drawn from the Treasure of the City, nor shall any obligation for the expenditure of money be incurred except pursuant to the appropriations made by the Council, but nothing in this or the preceding section shall be construed to authorize the application of revenue derived from a public utility of the City to any other purpose than that of the utility from which the same was derived.
Payments - Reports
Payment of Claims
No warrant for the payment of any claim shall be issued by the City Auditor until such claim shall have been approved by the head of the department for which the indebtedness was incurred and by the Mayor, and such officers and other sureties shall be liable to the Municipality for all loss or damage sustained by the Municipality by reason of the corrupt approval of any such claim against the Municipality. Whenever any claim shall be presented to the City Auditor, he shall have power to require evidence that the amount claimed is justly due and is in conformity to law and ordnance, and for that purpose he may summon before him any officer, agent or employee of any department of the Municipality or any other person, and examine him upon oath or affirmation relative thereto.
Certification of Funds
No contract, agreement or other obligation involving the expenditure of money shall be entered into, nor shall any ordinance, resolution or order for the expenditure of money be passed by the Council or be authorized by any officer of the City, unless the City Auditor shall first certify to the Council or to the proper officer, as the case may be, that the money required for such contract, agreement, obligation or expenditure is in the Treasury to the credit of the fund from which it is to be drawn, and not appropriated for any other purpose, which certificate shall be filed and immediately recorded. The sum so certified shall not thereafter be considered unappropriated until the City is discharged from the contract, agreement or obligation. The provisions of this section shall not apply to contracts or proceeding relating to improvements any part of the cost of which is to be paid by special assessments.
Money in the Fund
All money actually in the Treasury to the credit of the fund from which they are to be drawn, and all the money applicable to the payment of the obligation or appropriation involved that are anticipated to come into the Treasury before the maturity of such contract, agreement, or obligation, from taxes, assessments, or license fees, or from sales lawfully authorized bonds sold in process of delivery, for the purpose of such certificate shall be deemed in the Treasury to the credit of the appropriate fund shall be subject to such certification.
The Council shall have furnished them a monthly balance showing in detail all receipts and expenditures of the City for the preceding month; and the aggregate receipts and expenditures of each department shall be published by the Council shall have printed an annual report, in pamphlet form, giving a classified statement of all receipts, expenditures, assets, and liabilities of the City: a detailed comparison of such receipts and expenditures with those of the year preceding; a summary of the Council proceedings and summary of the operations of the administrative departments for the previous twelve (12) months. A copy of this report shall be furnished the State Bureau of Accounting, the public library and any citizen of the City who may apply at the office of the Clerk of the Council.
Payments - Reports
Payment of Claims
No warrant for the payment of any claim shall be issued by the City Auditor until such claim shall have been approved by the head of the department for which the indebtedness was incurred and by the Mayor, and such officers and their sureties shall be liable to the Municipality for all loss or damage sustained by the Municipality by reason of the corrupt approval of any such claim against the Municipality. Whenever any claim shall be presented to the City Auditor, he shall have power to require evidence that the amount claimed is justly due and is in conformity to law and ordinance, and for that purpose he may summon before him any officer, agent, or employee, of any department of the Municipality, or any other person, and examine him upon oath or affirmation relative thereto.
Certification of Funds
No contract, agreement, or other obligations involving the expenditure of money shall be entered into, nor shall any ordinance, resolution or order for the expenditure of money be passed by the Council, or be authorized by any officer of the City, unless the City Auditor shall first certify to the Council or to the proper officer, as the case may be, that the money required for such contract, agreement, obligation or expenditure is in the Treasury, to the credit of the fund from which it is to be drawn, and not appropriated for any other purpose, which certificate shall be filed and immediately recorded. The sum so certified shall not thereafter be considered unappropriated until the City is discharged from the contract, agreement, or obligation. The provisions of this section shall not apply to contracts or proceedings relating to improvements any part of the cost of which is to be paid by special assessments.
Money in the Fund
All moneys actually in the Treasury to the credit of the fund from which they are to be drawn, and all moneys applicable to the payment of the obligation or appropriation involved that are anticipated to come into the Treasury before the maturity of such contract, agreement, or obligation, from taxes, assessments or license fees, or from sales of services, products or by-products of any city under taking, and moneys to be derived from lawfully authorized bonds sold and in process of delivery, for the purpose of such certificate shall be deemed in the Treasury to the credit of the appropriate fund and shall be subject to such certification.
The council shall have furnished them a monthly balance showing in detail all receipts and expenditures of the City for the preceding month; and the aggregate receipts and expenditures of each department shall be published by the Council in such manner as to provide full publicity. At the end of each year the Council shall have printed and annual report, in pamphlet form, giving a classified statement of all receipts, expenditures, assets and liabilities of the City; and detailed comparison of such receipts and expenditures with those of the year preceding; a summary of the Council proceedings and summary of the operations of the administrative departments for the previous twelve (12) months. A copy of this report shall be furnished the State Bureau of Accounting, the public library and any citizen of the City who may apply therefore at the Clerk of the Council.
Improvements - Contracts
Limitation of Assessments
In levying special assessments to pay any part of the cost of any public work or improvement, the Council shall not exceed any limitation as to the amount thereof which may be prescribed by the general laws of the State applicable to municipalities and in force in at the time it is determined by the council that any such work shall be done or improvement made. Unless for special reasons which shall be stated in the ordinance levying an assessment or made pursuant to contract, no such ordinance shall be passed, or assessment levied or money borrowed, until bids for the labor and material have been received and the approximate cost of the improvement for the labor and material have been received and the approximate cost of the improvement determined.
Improvements by Direct Labor
Nothing in the preceding section shall be construed to prohibit the Council from doing any public work or making any public improvement by the employment of the necessary labor and the purchase of the necessary supplies and materials, with separate accounting as to each improvement so made, but with Council may upon so declaring by ordinance or resolution, cause any public work or improvement to be done or made in such manner.
Sewer, Water and Gas Connections
Before paving or otherwise surfacing or resurfacing any street or alley of the City, the Council shall determine the time within which sewer, water, gas or other connections shall be constructed, and shall give notice thereof to the persons or corporations required to make the same, and if such persons or corporations fail to make any such connection when so required, no permission to make the same shall thereafter be granted within five (5) years from the completion of any such street improvements unless with the consent of four (4) members of the Council, expressed by resolution adopted at a regular meeting of the Council and Stating the reasons therefore and the conditions under which the same be made. Nothing herein shall be construed to prohibit the Council from providing that such connections may be made by the City and the cost thereof assessed against the lots and lands specially benefited thereby.
Assessment for the Removal of Snow, Weeds, Etc.
Council may provide by ordinance or resolution for assessing against the abutting property the cost of removing snow and ice from the sidewalks of the City, and for assessing against property the cost of cutting and removing there from noxious weeds and rubbish.
Expenditures in excess of $15,000.00
A proposed expenditure, other than for the compensation of persons employed by the City, in excess of $15,000.00, shall first be authorized by ordinance of the Council, and the contract therefore shall be made upon the approval of the Mayor and the Council.
Time of Making Contracts
The Council shall not authorize or enter into any contract which is not to go into full operation during the term for which all the members of such Council are elected.
Modification of Contracts
When it becomes necessary in the opinion of the Mayor, in the procurement of any work or improvement under contract, to make alterations or modifications in such contract, such alterations or modifications, if made, shall be of be of no effect until the price to be paid for the work and material, or both under the altered or modified contract, has been agreed upon in writing and signed by the contractor and by the Mayor and approved by the council.
Bids in Excess of Estimate
No contracts shall be awarded upon bids which as a whole, or in aggregate, if bids for parts of the work are taken, exceed the estimate for the improvement contemplated.
Contracts - When Void
All contracts, agreements, or other obligations entered into and all ordinances passed, or resolutions and orders adopted contrary to the provisions of the preceding sections, shall be void.
No grant or renewal thereof, to construct and operate a public utility in the streets and public grounds of the City shall be made by the Council to any individual, company or corporation in violation of any of the limitations contained in this Charter.
Periods of Grants
No such grant shall be exclusive, nor shall it be made for a longer period than twenty (20) years. No such grant shall be renewed earlier than two (2) years prior to its expiration unless the Council shall by a vote of at least two thirds of its members first declare by ordinance its intention of considering a renewal thereof. All grants of the right to make extensions of any public utility shall be subject as far as practicable to the terms of the original grant and shall expire therewith.
All franchises or privileges for the occupation of the streets shall be strictly construed on favor of the City and no franchise or privilege shall be held to have been granted unless specified in clear and unmistakable terms.
Construction of Streets
All franchises or privileges for the occupation of the streets that has disturbed, removed or changed any street, alley, parking lot or grounds, must restore any street, alley, parking lot or grounds with original type material.
Free Transportation of Policemen and Firefighters
The grant of every franchise for public or commercial transportation may provide that policemen and firefighters of the City in uniform shall at all times, while in the actual discharge of their duties, be allowed to ride in public or commercial transportation within the boundaries of the City without paying therefore and with all the rights of other passengers.
No such grant shall be leased, assigned, or otherwise alienated except with the express consent of the council.
Right to Purchase
All such grants shall reserve to the city the right to purchase or lease all the property of the utility used in or useful for the operation of the utility, at a price either fixed in the ordinance making the grant, or to be fixed in the manner provided by such ordinance, which price shall in no event include any value for the grant. Nothing in such ordinance shall prevent the City from acquiring such property by condemnation proceeding or in any other lawful mode, but such rights and remedies shall be in addition to those reserved in such ordinance. Upon the acquisition of such property by purchase, condemnation, or otherwise all grants shall at once terminate.
Extension by Annexation
It shall be provided in every such grant that upon annexation of any territory to the City, the portion of any such utility that may be located within such annexed territory and upon the streets, alleys or public grounds thereof, shall thereafter be subject to all the terms of the grant as though it were an extension made thereof.
No consent of the owner of property abutting on any highway or public ground shall be required for the construction, extension, maintenance or operation of any public utility by original grant or renewal, unless each public utility is of such a character that its construction or operation is an additional burden upon the rights of the property owners in such highways or public grounds.
Right of Regulation
All grants shall be subject to the right of the City, whether in terms reserved or not, to control at all times the distribution of space in, over, under or across all streets, alleys or public grounds, occupied by public utility fixtures, and, when in the opinion of the Council the public interest so requires, such fixtures may be caused to be reconstructed, relocated, altered or discontinued ; and said City shall at all times have the power to pass all regulatory ordnances affecting such utilities which, in the opinion of the Council, are required in the interest of the public health, safety, or accommodation.
If any action shall be instituted or prosecuted directly or indirectly by the grantee of any such grant, or by its stockholders or creditors, to set aside or have declared void any of the terms of such grant, the whole of such grant may be thereupon forfeited and annulled at the option of the Council, to be expressed by ordinance. All such grants shall make provision for the declaration of a forfeiture by the Council for the violation by the grantee of any the terms thereof.
The Council by resolution may require the owner or operator of any railway, railroad, or spur track lying within the street limits to lay, maintain and renew the pavements between the rails, and the tracks, and for a distance of one foot outside the track, and to remove snow and ice there from, and upon any failure of such owner or operator to comply with the provisions of such resolution after sixty (60) days notice to the person having charge or management of such railway, railroad or spur track in the City, the City may do said work directly or by contract, as in the case of other improvements, at the expense of the owner or operator of such tracks, and all such expense shall be reported by the Mayor to the Council, and shall be charged against such owner or operator within the County of Ashtabula, and such charge and cost, together with a penalty of fifty dollars ($50.00) for each and every day of failure on the part of such owner of the operator to comply with the requirements of such resolution, may be collected in any court of competent jurisdiction, or the lien enforced in the manner provided by law.
Accounts and Reports
Every person or corporation operating a public utility within the City limits, whether a grant heretofore or hereafter obtained, shall keep and maintain at some place within the City suitable and complete books of account, showing in detail the assets, financial obligations, gross revenue, net profits, and all the operations of such utility which are usually shown by a complete system of bookkeeping. Each person or corporation, within sixty (60) days after the end of each of its fiscal years, unless the Council shall extend the time, shall file with the Council a report for the preceding fiscal year showing the gross revenue, the net profits, expenses of repairs, betterments, and additions, amount paid for salaries, amount paid for interest and discount, other expenses of operation and such other information, if any, as the Council from time to time may prescribe. Council may also prescribe the form for such reports.
It shall be the duty of each person or corporation to furnish the Council such supplementary or special information about its affairs as Council may demand; and the Council or its authorized representative, shall at any and all reasonable times have access to all the books, records and papers of each and every person or corporation, with the privilege of making copies of same or any part thereof. The duties herein prescribed may be specifically enforced by appropriate legal proceedings; and in addition, each such person or corporation, for failure to comply with the provisions of this section, shall be liable to the City of Ashtabula, Ohio, in the sum of fifty dollars ($50.00) per day for each day of such failure, to be recovered in a civil action in the name of the City.
The provisions of this section do not apply to any utility building extending in its operation to other communities not properly suburban to the City of Ashtabula , Ohio; but the Council by ordinance may make the same, or any part thereof, applicable to the portion of any such utility operated within limits of the City.
Grants Not Included
Revocable permits for laying spur tracks across or along streets, alleys or public grounds to connect a railroad with any property in need of switching facilities shall not be regarded as a grant within the meaning of this Charter, but may be permitted in accordance with such terms and conditions as the Council may by ordinance prescribe.
Nothing in this Charter contained shall operate in any way, except as herein specifically stated, to limit the Council in the exercise of any of its lawful powers respecting public utilities, or to prohibit the Council from imposing in any such grant further restrictions and provisions as it may deem to be in the public interest, provided only that the same are not inconsistent with provisions of this Charter or the Constitution of the State of Ohio.
General Laws to Apply
All general laws of the State of Ohio applicable to municipal corporations, now or hereafter enacted, and which are not in conflict with the provisions of this Charter, or with ordinances or resolutions hereafter enacted by the Council, shall be applicable to this City and all officers and departments thereof: provided that nothing contained in this Charter shall be construed as limiting the power of the Council to enact any ordinance or resolution not in conflict with the Constitution of the State of Ohio or with the express provisions of this Charter.
Ordinances Continued in Force
All ordinances and resolutions in force at the time of the taking effect of this Charter, not inconsistent with its provisions, shall continue in full force and effect until amended or repealed.
The following ordinance shall be added upon the passage of this charter to:
Title Three – Zoning Districts and Regulations
No single family residence shall be made into a two-family or multifamily dwelling.
Continuance of Present Officers
All persons holding office at the time this Charter is adopted shall continue in office and in the performance of their duties until provisions shall have been otherwise made in accordance with this Charter for the performance or discontinued of the duties of any such office. When such provision shall have been made the term of any such officer shall expire and the office be deemed abolished. The powers which are conferred and the duties which are imposed upon any officer, board or department of the City under the laws of the State, or under any City ordinance or contract in force at the time of the taking effect of this act shall, if such office or department is abolished by this Charter, be thereafter exercised and discharged by the Council, officer, board or department upon whom are imposed corresponding functions, powers and duties by this Charter or by an ordinance or resolution of the Council hereafter enacted.
Continuance of Contracts and Vested Rights
All vested rights of the City shall continue to be vested and shall not in any manner be affected by the adoption of this Charter; nor shall any right or liability, or pending suit or prosecution, either in behalf of or against the City, be in any manner affected by the adoption of this Charter, unless otherwise herein expressly provided to the contrary. All contracts entered into by the City or for its benefit prior to the taking effect of this Charter shall continue in full force and effect. All public work begun prior to the taking effect of this Charter shall be continued and perfected hereunder.
Public improvements for which legislative steps shall have been taken, under laws in force at the time this Charter takes effect, may be carried to completion of such in accordance with the provisions of such laws.
The Council, or any special committee of not less than three (3) persons appointed by it for such purpose, shall have power at any time to cause the affairs of any department or the conduct of any officer or employee to be investigated; and for such purposes the Council or such investigating committee shall have the power to compel the attendance of witnesses and the production of books, papers, and other evidence; and for that purpose may issue subpoenas or attachments which shall be signed by the president or chairman of the body making the investigation, and shall be served by any officer authorized by general law to administer oaths; and shall also have power to punish as for contempt any person refusing to testify to any fact within his knowledge, or to produce ant books pr papers under his control, relating to the matter under investigation.
Oath of Office
All officers before taking office shall take the oath of office prescribed by law, the same to be in writing and filled with City Auditor.
Hours of Labor
Except in case of extraordinary emergencies, not to exceed eight (8) hours shall constitute a day’s work, and not to exceed forty-eight (48) hours a week’s work for workmen engaged oh any public work carried on or aided by the Municipality, whether done by contract or otherwise. The Council shall, by ordinance, provide for the enforcement of the provisions of this section.
Amendment of Charter
Amendments to this Charter maybe submitted to the electors of the City by a two-thirds vote of the Council, or upon petition signed by ten percent (10%) of the electors of the City, setting forth any such proposed amendment, shall be submitted by such Council. The ordinance providing for the submission of any such amendment shall require that it be submitted to the electors at the next regular municipal election if one shall occur not less than sixty (60) nor more than one hundred twenty (120) days after its passage; otherwise it shall be provided for the submission of the amendment at a special election to called and held within the time aforesaid. Not less than thirty (30) days prior to the such election, the Clerk of the Council may mail a copy of the proposed amendment to each elector whose name appears upon the poll of registration books of the last regular municipal or general election, or, pursuant to laws passed by the General Assembly, notice of such proposed amendments may be given by newspaper advertising. If such proposed amendment is approved by a majority of the electors voting thereon, it shall become a part of the Charter at the time fixed therein.
If any section or part of a section of this Charter proves to be invalid or unconstitutional, the same shall not be held to invalidate or impair the validity, force or effect of any other section or part of a section of this Charter, unless it clearly appears that such other section or part of a section is wholly or necessarily dependent for its operation upon the section or part of a section so held unconstitutional or invalid.
The Council shall annually levy a tax for current operating expenses on the real and personal property in the City. The rate of such tax shall not exceed nine (9) mills on the dollar of assessed valuations; provided that any levy in excess of seven (7) mills shall be expended only for improvements having a life of five (5) years or more.
On or before the 15th day of September in any year Council may, by resolution adopted by vote of two-thirds of all members elected thereto, declare that the amount of money that mat be raised by taxation under the limitations of this Charter or the general law of the State for the ensuing year, together with all other funds available during the year, will be insufficient to provide an adequate amount for the necessary requirements of the City, and that it is necessary to levy taxes in excess of said limitations (1) for the purpose of meeting the current expenses of the City, its boards, departments, and institutions, and (2) for any specified improvement or improvements having a life of five (5) years or more, and may require the submission of the question of levying such additional tax to the electors of the City at the next November election. Such resolution shall specify the additional sum which it is necessary to levy, the purpose thereof and the number of years during which such increase rate may be levied, which shall not exceed five (5) years. Such resolution shall take effect upon its adoption and shall be certified within five (5) days thereafter to the election authorities who shall place said question upon the ballot in the following form:
For the approval of an additional levy of taxes by the City of Ashtabula in the sum
of $____________ to be used for the purpose of __________________, and the effective during the tax year ________.
Against the approval of an additional levy of taxes by the City of Ashtabula in the sum of $___________ to be used for the purpose of ______________________________.
The question covered by such resolutions shall be submitted as a separate proposition but may be printed on the same ballot with any other proposition other than the election of officers at the same election. If a majority of those voting thereon vote for the approval of such additional levy, Council shall immediately make such levy, or such part thereof as it finds necessary, pursuant to such approval, and certify the same to the County Auditor to be placed on the tax list and collected as other taxes.
Elector Approval of Income Tax
No ordinance for the levy of an income tax shall be effective until the same shall be approved by a majority vote of the electors. Within five (5) days after the passage of an ordinance for the levy of an income tax, the Clerk of Council shall require the election authorities to call a special election to be held not less than thirty (30) nor more than seventy-five (75) days after the passage of such ordinance. If a majority of the votes be cast in favor of the ordinance so submitted to referendum, the same shall thereupon adopted and be in full force and effect.
The standard of time throughout the City of Ashtabula shall be that of the 75th meridian of longitude west of Greenwich, except from 2:00 a.m. of the first Sunday of April until 2:00 a.m. of the last Sunday of October in each year when the standard of time throughout the City of Ashtabula shall be advanced one hour, and all municipal courts, offices, proceedings and activities shall be regulated thereby.