Northwood Councilman Dave Gallaher will be forming a committee to review the city’s charter. Among the possible amendments: cutting the number of council members from seven to three.
Gallaher came up with the idea at a council meeting this month as a way to save money.
“We’re cutting off the legs of this city, and if we want to save money, it’s very simple,” Gallaher said to council. “Put it to the people and ask them what they think. The devil’s in the details. We’ll have to work on this a little bit. But there isn’t a department in this city that hasn’t been cut. I’m suggesting that we put it on the ballot and let the people decide how many people they need to represent them.”
A council member’s annual salary is $7,000.
The city has made painful budget cuts and layoffs in the last two years due to a shrinking tax base caused by the economic recession.
Councilman Ed Schimmel said reducing the number on council to three would “be really cutting it close as far as having a quorum.”
“If you said five, I’d probably be fine with that,” said Schimmel.
“We don’t have to solve it this evening,” said Gallaher. “We have a long time until the next election. But I really do believe it’s something we should consider.”
Last week, Gallaher told The Press that council should not be immune to cost saving measures.
“I don’t think it’s out of place to look at everything,” said Gallaher. “When you’re looking at cuts all over the city, and everything is on the table, you really have to ask yourself, `If it comes between cutting a police officer, fire fighter, street department employee, and a councilman, who can we live without?’ It’s that simple to me,” said Gallaher.
The committee will consist of a cross section of residents, and be formed at the first of the year.
“Reviewing the charter is something we have to do from time to time,” said Gallaher. “In addition to looking at how many people the committee thinks we need on council, we’ll be looking at the entire charter.”
Governing bodies can consist of three people, he said.
“Realistically, you look at Lake Township – much bigger than we are, and there are three trustees. And look at the county, with three commissioners. So it’s not completely unheard of,” he said. “Can we run council with three? I’m not sure. Would five be a better number? We’ll have to see. Or do we want to leave it at seven? I would be interested in hearing from residents. It’s probably nothing that has occurred to them.”
Charter changes must be approved by voters.
“The committee, when it’s formed, will have the responsibility of reviewing the entire charter and making suggestions to council so we can put it on the ballot so people can vote on it. It’s the people’s city. They should have the right to decide how it’s run,” said Gallaher.