Redrawing Youngstown wards may be a moot point - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

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Redrawing Youngstown wards may be a moot point

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio - After about a year of haggling over how to redraw the city's seven wards, Youngstown Council has unanimously approved how the wards will be reconfigured.  However, their effort may be a moot point.

The new map will be in place for the 2015 council races and would take effect after that year's election.

However,  two councilmen are now backing a citizens effort to have the seven wards reduced down to five.

Councilmen Paul Drennen and Mike Ray asked their colleagues on Wednesday to submit a proposed charter amendment reducing the number of wards to the Board of Elections in time for the November ballot.

"We've had seven council members since we've had over 150,000 population, we're down to 63,000 population no," said Drennen. "It's time for us to make certain cuts, we cant ask  other departments to make cuts without making cuts themselves."

Council members are considered part time employees and on average make about $28-thousand per year, plus benefits.

Drennen says that's more than a starting fireman or police officer.

"Everyone is doing more with less," said Ray. "We just approved a union agreement where people are paying more yet, this body is not going to take their cut."

The two councilmen urged their colleagues to take emergency action and send the charter amendment to the board of elections immediately, instead of waiting to have a second reading, which would require council to schedule a special meeting to meet the Board of  Elections deadline   for the November ballot.

Council voted against their request.

"We could but if we started doing it for this then everybody is going to be running in late with their petitions and doing it a different way," said Councilwoman Annie Gillam.

Gillam says she's confident council will vote before the deadline but she doesn't necessarily feel that the number of council members needs to be reduced.

"I'm against having five wards," said Gillam. "I will be gone it wont affect me but there's a lot of work to do for a council person as it is and if you cut it down it's going to be more work."

"This about the people having a voice, the Ohio Constitution allows for them to have a vehicle if they are not being represented to get something on the ballot," voiced Ray. "Stifling that is just appalling."

If the proposal goes onto the November ballot and voters approve to reduce the number of wards from seven to five, council has 30 days to redraw those five boundaries. If they don't, the job falls onto the city administration who will have only two weeks.

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