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FULL STORY: City council votes to eliminate police civil service commission

WORTHINGTON — The Worthington City Council, heeding a recommendation from the Worthington Charter Commission, voted following a public hearing Monday night to amend the city charter to eliminate the requirement for a police civil service commission.

Municipal officials felt comfortable with the amendment in the city charter given that the police civil service commission no longer serves the purpose for which it was originally created.

City Administrator Steve Robinson explained that the commission was established in 1929 to ensure employment for police officers in an era when city management was weaker. Council member Alan Oberloh added that for the past few decades, the commission has participated less in job protection and more in the interview process for police officers.

Charter commission attorney Aaron Kinser testified that in its current role, the police civil service commission stops the city from taking disciplinary action when needed. To that point, council member Mike Harmon cited a recent well-publicized instance — which he did not specifically reference — when discipline of an officer was needed, but the commission prevented that from happening.

Council members concluded that they felt that current state law and city management provide sufficient protection for police officers’ jobs, and that the commission was therefore unnecessary.

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The amendment doesn’t officially go into effect until 90 days after passage and publication.

Members of the public may force a referendum to approve the council’s decision. This requires a petition signed by 5 percent of the registered voters in the city or 2,000 people, whichever is less. (State records show 4,720 registered voters in Worthington, 5 percent of which is 236 people.)

The petition must be submitted within 60 days of passage and publication.

Also on the council meeting docket were decisions involving a number of development projects. Council members voted to begin soliciting professional services in architecture and construction on the upcoming entertainment spec building, including plans for a movie theater.

Director of Public Works Todd Wietzema presented plans for the Beach Nook bathroom project and the Beach Nook trail and utilities project. The council approved plans and will begin advertising for bids on the projects.

All city council votes were unanimous.

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