Sunday, October 29, 2000

Mayor opposes charter change

By Walt Schaefer
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        EVENDALE — Changing the village charter to create a village administrator's position, recommended by a charter review committee, is not supported by the mayor or endorsed by council.

        Voters will decide the issue Nov. 7. It would take away much of the mayor's responsibility and put it in the hands of an administrator.

        The village charter is reviewed every five years, and any change recommended by the committee must be put before voters.

        Councilman Phil Schneider, who chaired the committee, which included two residents and two business owners, said he has been a proponent of the change for more than a decade.

        Evendale, which has 3,600 residents, is home to the GE Aircraft Engines manufacturing plant.

        “Evendale has grown dramatically in 20 years. We are a town with approximately a $10 million budget. No com munity in America with that kind of responsibility can survive on part-time management,” Mr. Schneider said. “I want to bring in a top qualified manager to run our (city) business.”

        Tom Stautberg, an Evendale-based financial consultant and a resident who served on the review committee, said that the village has $15 million cash on hand and that any company with coffers that deep depends on professional management.

        “We need more accountability. We are looking at a large budget with a number of personnel issues. ... This is not a power struggle. ... It is not about the mayor. ... It is basically a way to make sure the village runs very smoothly,” Mr. Stautberg said.

        Mayor Doug Lohmeier said he is satisfied that the existing system will work. The part-time mayor has the authority to hire an assistant and delegate responsibilities to that person.

        “In any municipality, there are issues and problems, and you are always trying to correct and improve the system. I'm not denying there is room for improvement, but I think we can accomplish that without jumping the fence and changing the charter,” which has worked effectively for 49 years, Mr. Lohmeier said.

        The mayor said a legitimate concern is the lack of a specific person to act as a full-time contact for residents and businesses to call when assistance or information is needed.

        “We can solve that by re- structuring and better defining the position of assistant to the mayor, by giving that person a more definite directive, some more responsibility ... an adjustment in our (government) structure without a charter change,” he said.

        The mayor said there are 65 full-time village employees, and that he or department heads have dealt effectively with the few personnel issues that have arisen.


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