CLEVELAND — Big changes could be coming to Cleveland City Hall.
Proposals to cut the number of council members and reduce their pay are expected to move a step closer on Monday to the March ballot.
Cleveland’s 17-member council is larger and better paid than others in cities of similar size (though they have smaller staffs).
That’s one reason a small group of activists, backed by Westlake businessman Tony George, want to cut council down to 9 members and chop their pay from $83,000 a year to $58,000.
The group’s leader John Kandah, who once ran for city council and couldn’t be reached Friday, has previously argued council members are a rubber stamp for Mayor Frank Jackson, fail to think about the city beyond their respective ward boundaries and are often self-serving.
He and others have pointed to longtime Councilman Ken Johnson, who’s earned scrutiny for his council expenses and for family members on the city payroll.
The group, which calls itself Clevelanders First, recently collected enough signatures to force council to take the proposals and send the them to the elections board. Council is expected to formally accept them at Monday’s meeting.
George, who has several business interests in town, has said he wants to force more turnover on the body, which has many longtime members. In 2006, George and others pushed a charter amendment to reduce council to 11 members. They ultimately backed off after the then-council president agreed to support a different charter amendment that passed and ties the number of council members to the city's population.
Kelley has said experience matters and that council has smaller staffs than other councils. He also questions George's motives. Kelley said George failed to win a city contract last year that has left him bitter.