The change would be a major step forward in itself. More, doing so would send strong signals in two broad directions. Passage would underscore the adaptability of charter, enhancing the ability of local government to respond as circumstances change. And it would provide an example for local officials across the region, encouraging creative thinking about streamlining basic operations.
We strongly recommend a ''yes'' vote on Issue 4 on Nov. 3.
Voters have faced two previous charter amendments to abolish the elected engineer's office. Why, then, did County Executive Russ Pry, the Charter Review Commission and the County Council move ahead a third time? The case remains compelling.
Ohio is the only state to elect county engineers, with job qualifications that greatly narrow the field of possible candidates.
Pry wants to end the duplication of effort with the Department of Environmental Services, eventually setting up a service department that would cover additional functions. He projects savings of about $1.5 million a year. More important is that professional engineering skills would be consolidated in one office, reducing administrative overhead yet better positioning the county to respond to pressing tasks. Accountability would be maintained through the elected county executive and council.
That follows the intent of Summit County voters in 1979, when they approved the charter, a first for Ohio's 88 counties. The idea was to move toward abolishing elected administrative offices, the executive providing strong leadership, the council fiscal and policy oversight, the structure resulting in greater openness and accountability. While far from a cure-all, the charter has benefited Summit County.
In Cuyahoga County, where voters are considering a charter government issue on the November ballot, the impetus to move ahead appears to be building, driven by frustration with a dysfunctional government riddled with inefficiencies and scandal, just as voters here reacted three decades ago.
The entire region would be aided by Cuyahoga County embracing a charter. Smaller units of local government also must contribute, their many overlapping layers adding administrative costs and yielding a fragmented, inefficient delivery of services.
Summit County has led the way. With passage of Issue 4, voters would strengthen the message about breaking from an outmoded and burdensome form of government. A few steps have been taken toward combining departments and sharing delivery of services. Now is the moment to accelerate the pace.