CHARDON — City Council Safety Committee members last week discussed updates to the Emergency Operation Plan, including who would declare or sign emergency orders, the mayor or the city manager.

Chardon has a council-manager form of government in which the city manager runs the day-to-day operation. In 2019, voters approved amendments to the city charter allowing residents to directly elect a mayor instead of City Council members. But the city manager position and responsibilities were left in place.

Last week, committee members discussed and reviewed a draft of the emergency plan after receiving input from department heads including City Manager Randy Sharpe and Law Director Benjamin G. Chojnacki.

“The city charter and state code provide for that authority to rest with the city manager as opposed to the mayor,” Mr. Chojnacki said after reviewing state and local documents about emergency declarations.

Mr. Chojnacki stated there are about three locations in Chardon’s emergency plan that reference the mayor declaring and signing a disaster declaration or emergency declaration, but that authority actually rests with the city manager.

“Under our charter, if you’re looking at who gets to do that type of act, that is more of a city manager provision, so under our local law the city manager or his designee has that right,” said Mr. Chojnacki. “When you refer back to the state code, the state code has language in it that essentially says that the emergency proclamation shall be made by the chief executive and the chief executive is defined as the mayor or city manager. When you read what our mayor and city manager have under the charter and state code, the authority lies with the city manager or in his absence his designee, so it’s the appropriate place to keep that responsibility in the manager’s office.”

Even after the changes to the mayoral election process, officials said the mayor’s duties would be largely ceremonial, outside of running council sessions.

The purpose of the emergency operation plan is to provide the city with a document that outlines steps necessary to address different levels of emergencies that may occur within city limits and to support the current plans and procedures already in place and in use by its safety response teams, city officials said.   

“Our safety committee has been working on developing an emergency operation plan for a few years,” committee Chairman Christopher Grau said. “There is still work to be completed and once we’re confident the content is accurate, we will provide to the entire City Council for approval in the next few months.”

The meeting was held on Jan. 7 via Zoom. The next regular city council meeting is Jan. 14 at 6:30 p.m.

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