YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Youngstown voters will be asked in November to decide whether to reduce the number of wards in the city from seven to five.
The folks behind the “Draw the Line” charter amendment held a campaign kickoff and fundraiser on Monday at the Rust Belt Brewing Company Tap House in downtown Youngstown. If passed, the amendment will base the number of wards on population, with 80,000 or more meaning seven wards and less than 80,000 being five wards.
Right now, only 65,000 people live in city of Youngstown. Organizers say five wards means more equal representation and two fewer council members, which saves the city approximately $360,000 over a four-year term.
“You take salary, you take benefits, and you take the expenses that are paid for through the discretionary fund and you’re going to be saving upwards of over $90,000 per year,” said Chris Travers, treasurer of the Committee for Responsible Redistricting. “It could put an extra police officer or two or three on the street. It could add something to the fire department, it could add other essential services.”
Travers said the charter amendment also mandates redistricting must be done within 120 days after each U.S.census, which will ensure redistricting is done in a timely, legal manner. Until about a month ago, it had been more than 30 years since city council redrew its wards.