Word changes city council funding on ballots
A proposed charter amendment seeks to reduce the annual salary of Cincinnati City Council members, but a language error could undermine that effort by enacting increases for members instead.
An eight-part charter amendment aimed at tackling corruption at City Hall has been proposed. Part of that is to set city council salary at Cincinnati’s median household income, around $ 46,000.
“That way if Cincinnatians are doing better, they are doing better,” said Tom Brinkman, who came up with number 3. “It makes sense.”
But the town hall synopsis put on the ballot, which people will read when voting, says the salary is based on median family income.
Median family income is a number higher than median household income, instead of $ 46,000, it stands at about $ 63,000, which is actually an increase from the roughly $ 60,000 people currently earn. board members.
Comparatively, the board members in Columbus, OH. earn about $ 58,000, plus a cost of living adjustment.
In a memo to council on Tuesday, the town’s lawyer said the mistake was unfortunate and the mistake was “born out of good intentions.”
Brinkman said that despite the language of the ballot, if number 3 is passed, the language of the petition is what matters most: the petition actually states that the median household income, the lowest amount, is which will actually come into effect.
“Most people will read the incorrect language on the ballot and vote on it, which is incorrect,” said Betsy Sundermann, member of the Cincinnati city council.
Some want those ballots fixed as soon as possible, as early voting for this election begins next week.
“For a lot of people that one word is the big difference between voting yes or no on this charter amendment,” Sundermann said. “Reducing the board’s salary or keeping it unchanged is the big deal with this charter amendment, so having that word that’s incorrect not only looks really fishy, but it needs to be fixed.”
Sundermann called a special committee meeting at 12:15 p.m. Thursday to ask the legal department to rewrite an order in the correct language.