Dayton City Commission and a few top city staff will hold an in-depth planning session Friday night and Saturday at a northern Cincinnati hotel.
New Mayor Nan Whaley said the city hasn’t held a retreat like this since 2007, when then-Mayor Rhine McLin called a similar session in Middletown.
The agenda calls for commission to discuss a vision for the next two years and beyond, with sessions on the city’s income tax, gun violence, potential changes to the city charter and ways the city can help Dayton Public Schools improve students’ performance. DPS Superintendent Lori Ward and school board President Robert Walker have been invited to that portion.
Whaley said her main goal is to make sure commissioners are on the same page regarding major issues they want to tackle.
“(Commissioner Joey Williams) made the point that this has been a big change — we have a new mayor and a new commissioner,” Whaley said. “We want to move quickly and steer Dayton in the right direction.”
The meeting, at the Holiday Inn Cincinnati North, 3855 Hauck Road in Sharonville, is open to the public and goes from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Friday and 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday.
Commissioner Matt Joseph said the point of going out of town is to force commissioners to focus and avoid distractions and obligations that might pull them away for an hour or two when they’re in town.
“The fact that we can get together for some uninterrupted time is really valuable,” Joseph said. “It helps us get to know Jeff Mims as a new commissioner. It helps us get to know what Nan’s going to want. It sets the tone for a better working relationship.”
Ohio’s Open Meetings Act does not specify where a public body must hold meetings. A decades-old Ohio attorney general opinion says that the spirit of the public meetings law “would appear to require” that meetings be held within the jurisdiction in question.
Some other local jurisdictions have held out-of-town retreats in the past, with Kettering City Council doing so at Hueston Woods, near Oxford.
Former Dayton Mayor Gary Leitzell, who boasted of lowering travel expenses, argued that the retreat could have accomplished the same things in Dayton.
Whaley fired back that Leitzell didn’t call for a retreat during his term, saying the current group is trying to be a more active, focused commission.