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Commission Discusses A Possible Charter Change

Daily Globe News Editor

SHELBY - The two members of the Public Works and General Operations Committee met Tuesday and discussed a possible charter amendment which would allow lateral hiring within the Shelby Police and Fire Departments.

Councilmember and committee member Garland Gates introduced the new wording and pointed out the ordinance to place the charter amendment on the ballot would first have to be passed by council.

"The City Charter is in our portfolio (of our committee) and this is an issue that had come out of the Civil Service Commission a few months ago," Gates said. "And it has to do with the concept of lateral transfers."

Giving a short history, Gates said currently if someone wants to become an entry-level firefighter, police officer or dispatcher they are required to take a civil service exam.

"There has been in some communities developed an alternate procedure called a lateral transfer," he noted. "It allows if someone is already employed by a fire department or law enforcement agency and they hold a particular required certification those communities allow those people to be hired in without going through a local civil service commission. That's what's known as the lateral transfer.

"Cities can vary from state civil service law if they have that variance in their city charter," Gates continued. "So if we wanted to do lateral transfers we would have to amend our city charter."

Gates noted the section in the Shelby City Charter pertaining to the Civil Service Commission is very sparse.

He pointed out the existing charter language says there "may" be a Civil Service Commission in Shelby.

"Well, the problem with that is the state constitution is very clear...cities must have a civil service commission, so the two places that say 'may' doesn't even comply with the existing constitution of Ohio," Gates said.

He said that wording needed changed and then he went over the additional wording changes that would allow lateral transfers.

"Again, these are discretionary, it could be that we're going to hold and exam anyway and go through the traditional route, but it does give us an alternative," Gates said. "I tried to think of a better metaphor, but it allows to steal the sheep from another pasture. If there is a police officer or firefighter and we're aware of such people and they have obtained and maintained their certification, have maintained employment with another agency, and they are willing and we are willing, we can do this lateral transfer.

"But it's not just open to anything," Gates said. "The last sentence takes care of that."

He then read the last sentence in the amended wording which states: "In lieu of a competitive examination, the Director of Public Safety may assess the merit and fitness of any such applicant so qualified by review of his or her record while employed as a law enforcement officer or firefighter. "And it goes further," Gates said, reading the next sentence. "The selection procedures and selection criteria applicable to such persons appointed without taking a competitive examination shall be as set forth by a rule duly adopted by the Civil Service Commission."

"This is my draft so far," Gates said. "I've shared it with the commissioners, the two chiefs and the mayor so they can get back with any comments on it.

"There is a time frame in the charter by which we have to get amendments on the ballot," Gates said. "I've sent this on to the law director to get legislation (ready) for a first reading for next Monday night."

"Charter amendments are very few and far between, but here's one that seems to have some advantages to it," Gates noted.

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