Frequently Asked Questions

This Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document provides information about the Circleville City Charter process.  Please review this FAQ document to learn more.
Q1.  What is a Charter form of Government?
A charter form of government is being studied and prepared because it allows for the City of Circleville to operate under its own rules, custom-made for the needs of our community, rather than the impersonal, standardized rules created by the state legislature for all Ohio cities.  Most Ohio cities have taken advantage of the Home Rule option that is allowed in the Ohio Revised Code and have created their own charters, each one different, because each city is different.  
Q2. What is the Process?
In a special election in August 2021, the residents of Circleville elected 15 fellow residents to form a Charter Commission to develop a Charter for the City of Circleville. The Commission has one year to complete this task. 
The Commission is now researching options, accepting input from the community, and discussing how they can improve the functioning of government and improve the quality of life for the residents of Circleville.  Their final charter proposal will be published in the Spring of 2022 with plenty of time for residents to review it and ask questions.  Each household will receive a printed copy of the final document. 
Additionally, in August 2022 the citizens will return to the polls to vote on the finished product.  The voters will decide whether or not they wish to adopt the charter as framed by the Charter Commission.
Q3. Weren’t We Voting on a Charter at the Last Election?
No.  It is a common mistake to think that in August 2021 voters approved a charter.  In August 2021 the voters gave permission to the City of Circleville to examine the need for a charter and write a suitable charter for Circleville. There is, as yet, no charter.  The Commission is currently creating one because the voters gave them permission to do so.
 
Q4.  How Does Circleville Government Currently Operate?
The City of Circleville currently operates under a statutory form of government which means the city government is structured under defined state regulations that are specified in the Ohio Revised Code.  The city is limited by these rules and cannot change them easily.  There is limited flexibility. 
Cities without a charter must employ statutory governance and are subject to the statutes (the laws) passed by the state legislature, not their local body like our City Council.  In simple terms, this means the state legislators from all over Ohio are telling us how to take care of business in Circleville and what is best for us.  If we want to change those laws it is a daunting task of presenting legislation to the entire State of Ohio House and Senate and lobbying them to change the state’s ORC.
There is no greater form of democracy, on the most local level than one that allows a city the ability to take on the responsibility of restructuring its own government to better serve its citizens.  Citizens are empowered.  Government responds to the voters!
Q5. What is a Charter Commission?
A Charter Commission is a group of city residents elected by the citizens of the City to frame a charter for the City of Circleville.  Members were not appointed by City Council and City Council has no power whatsoever over the Commission or the document it composes.  The Commission is autonomous.  Members of the Charter Commission cannot be employed by the city and cannot hold an elected position within city government.  The Charter Commission’s authority lasts one year.  
All its members are volunteers and receive no compensation for their work.  Meetings are conducted at published times so that interested community residents can attend.  The members study the many possible options, interview officials from other cities, invite experts to talk, review video and text information, and welcome public input at scheduled meetings. The Commission has a lawyer who advises them on the pros and cons of various charter options.  The attorney will ultimately write the actual charter text in legalese. 
Q6. Who Are the Charter Commission Members?
Fifteen members were elected to the Charter Commission in August 2021. Their names are listed on the charter website.  They represent a cross section of Circleville in gender, politics, demographics, and geography.  They all have in common a devotion to Circleville, a desire to empower its residents, and the drive to impact the quality of life in Circleville.  
Q7. What is a Charter?
A municipal charter is a legal document that defines the organization, powers, functions, and essential procedures of the city government as well as the rights of citizens.  The charter determines the kind of government the city will operate under and provides a system of checks and balances.  It is written by a commission of elected members.  Historically, a charter form of government has been understood to grant the residents of a municipality control over how their government works.  Under statutory government, those decisions come from the state level. Adopting a charter would allow Circleville residents to take control over the way their city government functions.
Q8  How Can Ideas Be Submitted to the Commission?
The Commission appreciates suggestions from the public.  You may attend any meeting of the Commission; all meetings are open meetings. You can email your comment or attach longer documents to circlevillecitycharter@gmail.com.
Q9. Are Charter Commission Meetings Public?
Yes, definitely!  Charter meetings are conducted about twice a month.  Your attendance is welcomed, encouraged, and valued!  You can simply watch to see the process unfold, or you can address the members with ideas and relative information. 
Q10  Will the Commission Answer Questions?
An email address circlevillecitycharter@gmail.com has been set up for residents to use to contact the commission.  Please send your question and a response will be sent as soon as possible.  We appreciate your questions because if you have a question then others probably have the same question.  Your question may be turned into an FAQ.  Please understand that the charter is a work-in-progress and some questions may not have an answer yet.