Two letters to Mayor Williams
January 12, 2007
Mayor Thomas Williams
City of Norwood
4645 Montgomery Road
Norwood, OH 45212
Dear Mayor Williams:
Entitled “Annual appropriation ordinance; supplemental appropriation,” that section provides in pertinent part:
An annual appropriation ordinance shall be prepared by the legislative authority of a municipal corporation from estimates submitted by the mayor . . . in the manner provided in section 705.17 of the Revised Code for the annual tax ordinance. The annual appropriation ordinance shall be submitted to the legislative authority at its first meeting in January . . . .
Unfortunately, Mr. Schneider has made a common mistake. Chapter 705 does not apply to statutory cities such as Norwood. Chapter 705 lays out the rules governing charter cities, as § 705.07 makes clear:
705.07. Sections applicable to each plan
Sections 705.07 to 705.32, inclusive, of the Revised Code, apply to and are a part of each plan of government provided in sections 705.41 to 705.86, inclusive, of the Revised Code.
Sections 705.41 through 705.86 lay out the various charter forms of government a city can adopt by charter — Commission, City Manager, or Federal.
As an example of another provision in Chapter 705 that clearly illustrates that the Chapter does not apply to Norwood would be:
705.09. Auditor; duties
The legislative authority of a municipal corporation shall choose an auditor, who shall keep an accurate account of all taxes and assessments, and of all money due to, all receipts and disbursements by, and of all assets and liabilities of the municipal corporation, and of all appropriations made by the legislative authority.
As you may be aware, the voters choose the Norwood Auditor, not Council.
Norwood is, however, governed by Chapters 731 and 733, which lay out the responsibilities of the Mayor and Council. As for the budget, the only relevant provisions I can find are:
731.47. General powers
The legislative authority shall have the management and control of the finances and property of the municipal corporation, except as otherwise provided.
733.06. Mayor and officers of cities shall attend meetings of legislative authority; mayor's written recommendations
The mayor, the directors, and the several officers provided for in Title VII  of the Revised Code shall attend the meetings of the legislative authority of the city when specifically requested by such legislative authority, and answer at such time questions put to any of them by any member of such legislative authority, relative to the affairs of the city under their respective management and control. The mayor shall make such recommendations, in writing, to the legislative authority for the welfare of the city as seem wise to him.
Although I would love to see someone else submit a completed appropriation ordinance for me to review, there seems to be no legal requirement for that.
Oddly enough, on closer reading, even § 705.18 does not appear to require that the Mayor submit a budget. It provides that “An annual appropriation ordinance shall be prepared by the legislative authority of a municipal corporation from estimates submitted by the mayor . . . .” So if we were a charter city, you would be required to submit estimates, but Council would still be the one required by statute to “prepare” the “annual appropriation.”
Even more astonishing, although it provides that “[t]he annual appropriation ordinance shall be submitted to the legislative authority at its first meeting in January,” it makes no mention of who exactly is supposed to do the submitting.
Of course, since § 705.18 has nothing to do with Norwood, it doesn’t matter what it says.
This, at least, is my reading of the Ohio Revised Code after an admittedly brief review. I would, of course, defer to the conclusions of the Law Department if a closer study reveals that I am mistaken.
I do agree with you (and Mr. Sanker and Mr. Barlow and Mr. Mumper and Mr. Schneider) that we need to change past practices for the budget process. In the years prior to my election, as Mr. Sanker’s predecessor as Chairman of the Finance Committee put it, “The Mayor gives us the budget and we pass it.” During my tenure, Council has taken the lead, mainly by instituting the least painful cuts to get us through the year in question.
But at no time was there long-term planning or detailed analysis of expenditures to services. We need to institute both. I support your efforts to bring in a Budget Analyst and to work with Mr. Jones to find a way for us to accomplish those changes to the budgeting process.
Keith D. Moore
Norwood City Council — Ward One
cc: Norwood City Council
Rick Gibson, Law Director
2. Rick Hursh's letter
January 26, 2007
The Honorable Tom Williams
City of Norwood
Dear Mayor Williams:
First, let me thank you for taking the time to talk about city issues yesterday. I thoroughly enjoyed our conversation and believe more face to face talk between the residents of the City of Norwood and their elected officials would go a long way to improving our community.
During our conversation, you raised the concern, as I understood, it that Citizens for a Better Norwood had accused you of breaking the law regarding the city’s appropriations. You indicated that you had not read our blog but were informed of this by a supporter.
Enclosed you will find a copy of the blog in question. As you read it, you will see that, as I stated, the blog simply states the concerns raised by Mr. Schneider. In addition, the blog cites the Ohio Revised Code verbatim. If you look at the last line of the blog, you will see that we close with “If there’s been a violation, where does it rank on the scale of seriousness?”
As you can see, we did not make any accusation or draw any conclusions. Whoever misinformed you, whether out of malice or ignorance, has done a disservice to you, your office and the community.
In closing, let me thank you once again for taking the time to discuss our mutual concerns for the city.