Established 1874.

The Oberlin Review

Established 1874.

The Oberlin Review

Established 1874.

The Oberlin Review

City Council Update for December 4

Council Votes to Put Charter Amendments on Ballot

Oberlin City Council met Monday for a regular meeting. Council President Bryan Burgess was absent, so Council Vice President Kelley Singleton presided over the meeting. All other Councilmembers were present.

City Council voted unanimously to put several items proposing amendments to the Oberlin City Charter on the ballot for the Mar. 19, 2024 election. The ordinances are the result of an almost year-long process by the Charter Review Committee and were first considered at the last Council meeting. At Monday’s meetings, the ordinance requesting their placement on the ballot was amended to require that the ballot measures be publicized in a newspaper of general circulation for three consecutive weeks in February, leading up to the election. Another ballot item, passed Nov. 20, was amended to require publicization as well. 

Multiple community members used the public comment section to voice concerns about one of the proposed charter amendments expanding City Council terms from two to four years. Speakers expressed concerns that longer terms and less frequent elections would lead to less accountability and less competitive elections. Council member Ray English said he also disagreed with the amendment but would vote to put the issue on the ballot because he felt voters rather than the Council should decide on changes to the charter. 

2024 Budget Considered

City Council voted unanimously to approve the City’s annual budget on the first reading. The budget will be considered again during a second reading at the next Council meeting. Council held several budget work sessions on Nov. 27 and 28, and prior to the meeting, City Manager Rob Hillard gave a presentation on the capital budget. The capital budget refers to money allocated to specific projects as opposed to day-to-day operating costs. Major capital expenditures in 2024 will include $1.3 million for improvements to North Park Street to allow better access to Oberlin Elementary School, $1.4 million to build a path for bicyclists and pedestrians from central Oberlin to the Route 20 business corridor, and $261,000 to build a Splash Pad facility in Park Street Park. The capital budget also allocated funds to purchase two trash trucks priced at about $400,000 each and a hybrid police vehicle costing $90,000. Hillard said that the city hopes to receive a grant-loan of up to 48 percent of up to $390,000 on the North Park Street development and plans to split the cost of the multi-use path between citizen income tax and funds from the State Revolving Fund. 

Oberlin Wins Auditor of State Award

Northeast Regional Liaison Kathryn Semo of the office of the Ohio Auditor of State appeared at the meeting to present Oberlin officials with the Auditor of State award. Semo said that very few municipalities receive this honor. The award comes from the City achieving a clean audit report in 2022. A clean audit reflects accurate, transparent, and ethical handling of finances.

Civil Service Commission Code Update Approved

City Council unanimously approved several revisions to the Civil Service Commission. The revisions allow for a third party to administer civil service examinations and allow the promotion of patrol officers from part time to full time and lateral position changes of employees in other departments without the approval of the Civil Service Commission, among several minor changes.

Community Members Express Concerns Over Downtown Parking

A business owner and employee both used the general comment section to express concerns over the lack of parking downtown during the Walkin’ in a Winter Oberlin holiday festival and more generally throughout the year. They said that Walkin’ in a Winter Oberlin shut down College Street for an extended period, leading to loss of business during a crucial time of year. They also said parking limits on College Street were not adequately enforced, allowing cars to remain parked for extended periods and making it difficult for customers to find parking. Singleton echoed their concerns earlier in the meeting, saying that the City should have a better parking plan for special events such as the Big Parade and the eclipse in April. 

Council Considers Ordinance to Raise Council Member Compensation

City Council considered an ordinance proposing a raise to Councilmembers’ wages. Finance Director Salvatore Talarico said at the meeting that the last change to City Council wages was passed in 2015 and that the proposed wage increase is based on that compensation adjusted for inflation. Currently, general Councilmembers make $12,000 a year, Council President makes $14,000, and Council Vice President makes $12,925. Councilmember salary increases do not go into effect until a new Council is sworn in and must be approved by the January before elections are held. As an effect, any salary changes made by the current Council will not go into effect until 2026. The Council voted to revisit the issue of Council salaries at future meetings.

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