In addition to all of its other functions, the U.S. Census also determines whether a town is a “village” or a “city” under Ohio law. The Ohio Revised Code provides that “cities” are municipal corporations which, in the last federal census, had a population of more than 5,000. All other municipal corporations are “villages.”
The 2000 census determined New Albany’s population was below 5,000. New Albany now is waiting to learn whether, under the 2010 count, it has crossed the 5,000-citizen threshold and has changed from a “village” to a “city.”
Why should anyone care, other than the possible cachet of being a bustling “city” rather than a sleepy “village”? Because under the Ohio Revised Code public employees who work for a municipal corporation that is above the 5,000-citizen threshold have the right to join a union and collectively bargain as to their wages, hours, and terms and conditions of their employment. That change will pose a challenge for the New Albany municipal government. It also comes at an interesting time, when the budget challenges at all levels of government are causing some governmental officials to question the value of public employee unions and their impact on hard-pressed government budgets.
New Albany’s transition from “village” to “city,” and the resulting labor issues, will be worth watching in the coming months.