Charter Review Commission
Under Ohio’s constitution, the charter is the most important governing document specific to any home-rule city in the state. Throughout 2023 the Brooklyn Charter Review Commission, a group of volunteer citizens appointed by the Mayor and City Council, reviewed the Brooklyn City Charter and made suggestions for changes as part of an effort that is required to occur every six years. City Council reviewed those suggestions over the summer, and from that review process nine separate suggested charter changes emerged. These changes must be approved by Brooklyn’s citizenry if they are to take effect.
At the general election on November 7, 2023, Brooklyn voters will be asked to vote on Issues 29 through 37, which represent these nine separate proposed charter changes. Below we give a summary of each proposed change:
• Issue 29: If adopted, this issue would adopt the First Amended Charter of the City of Brooklyn. As part of its review process, the Charter Review Commission determined that the existing charter needed to be cleaned up, with language harmonized among the various articles and sections, typographical errors corrected, sections moved and renumbered for clarity, and the text modernized overall. What the Commission felt were more substantive changes to the existing charter were broken out as separate issues, all below.
• Issue 30: If adopted, this issue would amend the charter to increase the number of consecutive years of required residency in the city from three years to five years immediately prior to a candidate’s election or appointment to City Council.
• Issue 31: If adopted, this issue would amend the charter to increase the number of consecutive years of required residency in the city from three years to five years immediately prior to a candidate’s election or appointment to the office of Mayor.
• Issue 32: If adopted, this issue would amend the charter to provide that on or before July 1 of each year in which a presidential general election is held, the city’s Civil Service Commission must review and make a written report with recommendations to City Council on the salaries of the offices of the Mayor and members of Council, and that the recommended salaries would go into effect automatically if Council fails to modify, accept or reject the recommendations within 90 days of receipt. Additionally, this issue would provide that no increase in salary under this provision may exceed 10 percent of the salary for the office of Mayor or Council, unless there has been no increase in salary for that office in the preceding decade.
• Issue 33: If adopted, this issue would amend the charter to provide that in the absence of an appointed director of public safety, the mayor shall serve as the director of public safety.
• Issue 34: If adopted, this issue would amend the charter to provide that the laws of Ohio relating generally to budgets, appropriations, deposits, expenditures, debts, bonds, contracts and other fiscal matters of the city shall be applicable to Brooklyn except as modified by or necessarily inconsistent with the provisions of this charter, or as modified by Council.
• Issue 35: If adopted, this issue would amend the charter to provide that all members of the Charter Review Commission, which next is scheduled to meet in 2029, be appointed at the Council organization meeting; and that all appointees to the Commission must have been residents of the city for at least three years prior to their appointment. [Note: See commentary following Issue 36 below.]
• Issue 36: If adopted, this issue would amend the charter to provide that all members of the Charter Review Commission shall be appointed at the Council organization meeting in January 2028, rather than in 2029, and every sixth year thereafter. [Comment: Issues 35 and 36 are inconsistent with one another. Issue 35, if adopted, would impose a minimum number of years of residency for charter commissioners, and would continue the schedule of having the Charter Review Commission meet every six years in odd-numbered years. Issue 36, if adopted, would not impose minimum residency requirements for charter commissioners and would have the Commission meet every six years in even-numbered years. Under the city’s charter, when two charter issues presented to the voters conflict with one another and they are both adopted, the issue receiving the largest affirmative vote shall become a part of the charter and the other issue shall be deemed to have failed.]
• Issue 37: If adopted, this issue would amend the charter to provide that no elected or appointed officeholder in the position of Mayor or member of City Council may appoint, vote to appoint or advocate for the appointment of the officeholder's spouse, parent, child, sibling, grandparent or grandchild, or a person married to any of the foregoing family members, to any Council office or to any board or commission position created by the charter.
Below are links to the proposed First Amended Charter of the City of Brooklyn, which would be adopted if Issue 29 passes; a sample ballot showing what Brooklyn voters will see when they vote on November 7, including Issues 29 through 37; and the Charter Review Commission’s report to City Council explaining its work in 2023, which includes a chart giving the Commission’s rationale for the changes it proposed.
We hope this information is useful to citizens seeking more information about the proposed Brooklyn charter changes appearing on the November 7, 2023 election ballot.