Message from the Mayor
Mayor Cyril Kleem says he often posts on Facebook to explain the how or why about some city function or ordinance. “People would tell me, ‘thanks, I never knew that,’ the Mayor said.
That prompted him to set up a Citizens Digital Academy. “It informs people what we do, how your city operates,” he said.
The first session was Sept. 14 with Law/Safety Director Barbara Jones. She presented “Berea’s City Charter and the Basics of Local Government.”
You can find the 20-minute program on the City web site – www.cityofberea.org – with links to Facebook and You Tube.
The next session will be on City finances with Finance Director Andrea Morris and Assistant Finance Director/Budget Manager Andy Palcheff on Oct. 5. Mayor Kleem said they will discuss the sources of City income and how it is spent plus how property taxes are allocated. Many people assume all or most of the property taxes collected by the county then go to the City, the Mayor said. That’s not true. The City gets only a small portion.
Other Digital Academy programs will focus on recreation, the service department, the water plant, police and fire and other city departments.
“We want to hit the highlights,” the Mayor said. “Just the basics.” Residents can post questions on Facebook. The sessions will be offered every few weeks.
During Session 1, Jones explained that Berea is a charter city with a strong mayor form of government. According to the charter, the mayor has executive and administrative authority. City Council’s duties are legislative. The Council president’s job is to preside over meetings and appoint committee members. The president votes only to break a tie.
The charter also establishes boards and commissions, such as Planning Commission and Civil Service Commission. It establishes procedures for electing public officials, levying taxes and paying for public improvements.
“It’s an outline, an umbrella,” Jones said. “It’s the bones for operating the city. The Mayor and Council flesh it out.”
Mayor Kleem pointed out that the Charter has changed over the years. The City appoints a Charter Review Commission every five years to go over every aspect of the document to see if anything merits change.
Jones explained that any recommendations for change are sent to City Council, which studies the recommendations and may tweak them. Any recommendations they approve are then put on the ballot for voters to decide.
Kleem noted that four years ago voters OK’d one suggested charter change and rejected another. They approved a change to non-partisan elections. That meant candidates no longer run for office with a party or Independent designation after their names. But voters turned down a suggestion to extend council terms from two years to four.
“That tells me that people are paying attention and they are studying the issues,” Mayor Kleem said.
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