Changing to a Strong Mayor Council form of Government is not just about being able to elect your mayor. You do and then what?

One of the councilors stated that they would love to have people vote for the mayor instead of our weak mayor/town manager form of government where the councilors choose the mayor among the officials elected.  There is so much more, and as Joe has stated in his previous article, it would have to be voted on by the majority of citizens to change the existing charter.  And our Town changed to the Weak Mayor council/town manager form of government when we were bankrupt previously,.  White Springs has had difficulty handling and saving money from its inception and we have had week staff members who have not adhered to law, including owing at one time $100,000 to the IRS for wrongful reporting and handling.  Thus the importance of an experienced Town Manager that is capable of handling the types of problems we have consistently had and are still having:

Before jumping into the idea that it is grand to choose a mayor by election, one must consider the pros and cons and remember that the citizens have the ultimate vote.  REMEMBER WE HAVE THE TOWN MANAGER COUNCIL FORM OF GOVERNMENT.  THIS IS WHAT FT WHITE HAS.

Although the Journal has stated many of these pros and cons, the experts at MRSC formulated those shown below:

Arguments For the Mayor-Council Form

  • This is the form that is familiar to most Americans because it is patterned after our traditional national and state governments. There is a separation of powers between the executive and legislative branches.

  • There are checks and balances. The council can refuse to confirm the mayor’s appointments and the mayor can veto the council’s legislation.

  •  Also separation of powers provides healthy independence, debate and creative tension.

  • Separate legislative and executive branches provide the best opportunity for debate and consensus building.

  •  By electing, rather than appointing a mayor, political leadership is established. The city has apolitical spokesperson who has a high degree of visibility.

  •  Some argue that an elected mayor will have a higher standing and greater voice in regional affairs of the city

  • The mayor is vested with the veto power and can serve as a check on an unpopular council decision

  • A skilled administrator can be hired to minimize weaknesses in the mayor’s management background or experience, but the mayor is still fully responsible. (This refers to the appointment of a CAO and the addition of professional expertise to the mayor’s office)


Arguments Against the Mayor-Council Form

  • The office of the mayor gives too much power and authority to one person. It permits an incumbent to make decisions based largely on political considerations, and to use the office to further personal political objectives

  • They also point out that the qualities needed to win an election are not the same qualities needed to manage a modern city.

  • A mayor, while politically astute, may not always possess the necessary management training and experience.

  •  If an elected mayor proves to be incompetent or worse, he/she cannot be removed until the end of their term, or after an expensive and divisive recall election.

  •  A separately elected mayor may resist requests from the council.

  • The mayor may attempt to isolate the council by controlling staff, information, and reports.


Arguments For the Council-Manager Form

  •  Administration of city business is removed from politics

  •  Efficiency of professional management based on a business model also the familiar model of school board to school superintendent relationship

  • Since city managers are appointed rather than elected, greater attention can be given to selecting a qualified manager.

  • The pool of qualified candidates is larger since city managers traditionally are paid better than mayors and since candidates can be recruited from outside

    the city including a nationwide search. (mayors must be a resident of the city prior to their election).

  • Emphasis is placed on the role of the legislative body and its policy-making function.

  • Council gets better cooperation and information because the city manager is their employee.

  •  Since manager serves at the pleasure of the council without a definite term, he/she can be removed at any time, limiting the danger of an abuse of authority.


Arguments Against the Council-Manager Form

 Critics of the council-manager plan argue the following:

  •  The council-manager form gives too much power to one person – the city manager

  •  A professional manager, often chosen from outside the city, does not know the community and is too far from the voters

  • Councils may leave too much decision. making to the manager, who is not directly accountable to the public

  • Without an elected chief executive, the community lacks political leadership

  •  The council-manager form is too much like a business corporation which is not suitable for managing community needs

  • City managers cost too much, local people could handle the job for less cost

  •  Citizens may be confused about who is in charge. Most expect the mayor to respond to their  problems.

  • The mayor has no direct control over the delivery of services and can only change policy through the city council

  •  City managers may leave a city when offered higher salaries and greater responsibilities in other cities (or when they do not like the way in which things are handled by some of the newly elected officials)

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