YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — A Youngstown-area state representative has introduced a bill into the Ohio legislature to change the way commissioners in park districts are selected — but one commissioner of Mill Creek MetroParks thinks it’s a bad idea.
59th District State Rep. Lauren McNally has introduced House Bill 323, which would change the way Mill Creek MetroParks commissioners are selected.
“They have no accountability because there’s no elected positions handling the park board money,” McNally said.
Currently, all five park commissioners are selected by Probate Judge Robert Rusu.
“That’s taxation without representation at its core, and that’s not what we should be doing. That’s not being good stewards of public dollars,” McNally said.
Under McNally’s bill, the judge will still select them but they must come from the city council of the district’s most populous city, Youngstown, the council of the most populous village, Sebring, and the trustees of the most populous township, Boardman, along with one county commissioner and one citizen.
“That’s going to make the park, then, much more political than it is now because it’s an independent entity right now,” MetroParks Commissioner Jeff Harvey said.
Harvey also disagrees with the bill’s language, which focuses the law on a township park district created before 1892 and converted into a park district on or before Jan. 1, 1989.
“It is written in a way that it can only impact Mill Creek MetroParks and no other metroparks in the state of Ohio,” Harvey said.
Harvey has no problems with the current process.
“Judge Rusu has made it very non-political. He has a committee that he sets up whenever there’s a commissioner open,” Harvey said.
The committee handles the interview process, then makes a recommendation to Rusu about whom they think would be the best candidates.
The bill has already been assigned to the state and local government committees. Hearings must be held there, it must pass the House, pass the Senate and then be signed by the governor before it ever becomes law.
McNally says it could be several years before all the steps are completed.