Cincinnati city council fixes error that would have made Issue 3 increase city council salaries instead of decrease them

On Sept. 30, the Cincinnati City Council passed an emergency ordinance to fix an error in the legal text of Issue 3 on the Nov. 2 ballot. The error would have made Issue 3 increase city council pay instead of decreasing it.

Issue 3, a citizen initiative, was designed to decrease city council pay to the median household income ($46,260 in 2021), among six other changes to provisions governing the city council and mayor. As of the beginning of 2021, the salary of a city council member was $60,000. After proponents submitted enough valid signatures for the initiative, the city council approved an ordinance on Sept. 1 officially putting Issue 3 on the ballot that said median family income ($62,941 in 2021) instead of median household income.

The city council’s Sept. 30 emergency ordinance states that the language in the initiative petition text (household) controls and will set the effective salary level if Issue 3 is approved.

According to the City Solicitor Andrew Garth, the error came about when a draft of the initiative text was sent to the city solicitor that had the word family instead of household. City staff drafted the initial ordinance based on that draft of the initiative text. However, initiative proponents had edited the petition text to change that one word before collecting signatures for the initiative. Initiative sponsors, city staff, and the board of elections did not notice the one-word difference until after the language was approved for the ballot on Sept. 16.

State Representative and city council candidate Tom Brinkman sponsored the initiative. In addition to the change to city council pay, the measure would

  • require the city council to approve any lawsuits filed on behalf of the city;
  • establish a one-year residence requirement for mayoral and city council candidates;
  • make it so the unelected candidate with the most votes at the last election fills city council vacancies instead of city council members designating a successor;
  • require the mayor to assign legislative proposals to the relevant committees within 30 days and to put proposals on the city council agenda within 30 days of them being reported out of committee;
  • make the mayor and city council members liable for purposeful or reckless violations of state open meeting laws; and
  • provide for a process for the removal of the mayor as set out in state law.

Local Ohio voters in Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Toledo, Hamilton County, and Lucas County will decide nine local ballot measures on Nov. 2.

In 2021, Ballotpedia is covering local measures that appear on the ballot for voters within the top 100 largest cities in the U.S. and all state capitals, including those outside of the top 100 largest cities. Ballotpedia is also covering a selection of notable police-related and election-related measures outside of the top 100 largest cities. Ballotpedia is also covering all local measures in California and all statewide ballot measures.