Government History

"The City with Heart in the Heart of it All"

City of Struthers Government History
Formation. Originally part of Poland Township, the settlement known as Struthers incorporated as a village in 1902, thereby, establishing its own governmental structure independent of Poland Township. In 1920, the Village of Struthers became a city as a result of the 1920 census determining its population exceeded 5,000. Today, on the centennial anniversary of its incorporation, the official population, according to the 2000 census, is 11,756. The 1990 census was 12,284. According to census data, its largest population was 15,631 in 1960 and 15,343 in 1970. There is some question that the 2000 census figures may be too low.
Government. The City of Struthers operates under a mayor-council statutory form of government as provided by the Ohio Constitution and the laws of the State of Ohio. The other possible forms of local government available are commission and charter types. As a statutory city, Struthers has home rule powers, but operates under a governmental structure prescribed by the State of Ohio. That structure is as follows:

The executive branch of government consists of an elected mayor, auditor (finance director), law director, treasurer, and president of council. With the exception of the president of council, who is elected for a two-year term of office, all other executive officeholders are elected for four-year terms. There are no term limits under the statutory form of city government.  
The mayor is the chief executive officer of the city charged with executing the laws of the state and ordinances (laws) passed by city council, and overseeing the operations and affairs of the city in conjunction with the various department heads. The Safety-Service Director, who is appointed by the mayor, is the city's chief administrative officer and is responsible for overseeing daily operations of all departments and is executive head of the police and fire departments. The SSD is also charged with enforcing all zoning and property maintenance codes. The primary departments responsible for providing governmental services are the police, fire, street, health, wastewater treatment, parks, and recycling/ litter control departments. The mayor, with the assistance of the auditor and tax commissioner is responsible for preparing annual budgets for council's consideration and approval.

The mayor is also the appointing authority for the city and with the Director of Public Service and Safety constitute the Board of Control. The Board of Control is the contracting agent for the city. The mayor also appoints various boards and commissions to carry out various administrative services. These include the Civil Service Commission, Planning and Zoning Commission, Board of Health, Tax Commissioner. The mayor, or the mayor's designee, also represents the city on various regional boards and agencies and often serves as the chief spokesman for the city with the state and federal government and the general public. In recent years, economic development has become a major focus of city government.
The auditor, or finance director, is the chief financial officer responsible for overseeing all expenditures of the city and that they are made in accordance with law. The auditor's office is the keeper of the books and advises the mayor and council on financial matters affecting the city. The auditor, also, certifies the availability of funds for city budgets and major projects undertaken by the city. The auditor appoints a Tax Review Board to monitor city income tax collections and procedures. The treasurer deposits and maintains the record of the various account funds into which various sources of revenue are deposited. The treasurer is also responsible for investing available city funds and issues all checks.
The law director is the city's lawyer and is responsible for providing legal advice and direction to other municipal officers, as needed. The law director reviews all contracts to be entered into by the Board of Control and also serves as prosecutor for the Struthers Municipal Court. The law director, also, oversees the Crime Victims Program.
The president of council presides over all meetings of City Council and appoints all committees of City Council, subject to their approval. The president of council enforces the rules of council and parliamentary procedure. The president of council, also, serves as acting mayor in the event the mayor is unavailable. As an administrative officer, the president of council helps coordinate activities between the mayor and council.

History of Struthers

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City Council is the legislative branch of city government responsible for considering and passing laws (ordinances), within its constitutional authority, to protect and promote the safety, health, welfare and common good of the community.

The Council of the City of Struthers consists of seven members, four elected from wards and three elected at-large. All council positions are elected for two-year terms. Among council's responsibilities are reviewing, revising and approving the city budget, authorizing the Board of Control to advertise and enter into contracts for various projects and collective bargaining agreements negotiated by the administration, and representing the concerns of their constituents in the making of public policy and providing services.

Council works through a committee system as they research and consider various proposals from individual council members, or the executive branch, requiring legislation. Each committee consists of three council members who make recommendations to the full body on matters within their area. Currently, the committees of council include Finance and Legislation, Police and Fire, Parks and Recreation, Business and Zoning, Public Utilities, General Improvements, Claims and Adjustments and State and Federal Grants. Typically, the Finance and Legislation Committee must also approve proposed legislation before council as a whole considers it.
All proposed legislation must receive a majority vote by City Council and be signed by the mayor to be enacted. Should the mayor veto the legislation a two-thirds (5) votes of council is needed to override the mayor's veto.

The municipal court constitutes the judicial branch of city government. The head of the judicial branch is the judge, who is elected to a six-year term of office. To be eligible to run for judge an individual must have been a practicing attorney for five years. The Struthers Municipal Court jurisdiction is to handle all civil cases where the disputed amount is up to $15,000, criminal misdemeanors, and preliminary hearings for felony crimes committed in the geographic area of the court's authority. The court's geographic area includes Struthers, Poland Village, Poland Township, New Middletown, Springfield Township, Lowellville, and a portion of the turnpike.

The government of the City of Struthers illustrates, at the local level, the principles of separation of powers, checks and balances, popular sovereignty, majority rule, and republican government that are the foundations of the American system. However, citizen participation is important to a successful democracy and the vote is the most powerful tool the people have to ensure its success. The electorate (voting age population) in the city is approximately 9,000, however, in a presidential election year only about 5,000 votes are cast in the general election, at best, and in primary and general elections for municipal offices the number is considerably less. Struthers is predominately Democrat and most often the primary election is the most important for selecting officeholders since they are often unopposed in the general election.