Council-Manager Form of Government

Do I support this new form of government for the City of Fairhope?  Absolutely

Should citizens be concerned about the timing of this effort? No. The discussion about the Council-Manager form of government has been talked about for many years and I have been researching it with a few citizens since the beginning of the year.  After the new amendment passed this past April, a group of citizens have come together to discuss how it works.   I believe this form of government is a better way for Fairhope’s future.

The administrative role of mayor currently is a full-time job leaving little time for planning and vision which I believe is one of the most important roles of a mayor.  We have had City Administrators in the past who have helped with this role with far less population, however the position was defunded years ago.  By changing the form of government, the City Manager would be the consistent professional through terms managed by The New Council (defined below).  Our future is too important to leave this position up for debate.

The petition being circulated is simply supporting a citizen vote to take place 90 days after it’s turned in on or before July 5th and would not take effect until next term, 2020. This is not about supporting or not supporting elected officials in office right now, rather a Fresh Start for Fairhope.

Why I support the Council-Manager form of government:

It takes the day-to-day administrative role out of the political limelight which has been very detrimental to not only our City but others also still operating under the Council-Mayor form of government. This is not about taking anyone’s side (mayor or council), it is about a more professional way of doing business for our City and our employees – a better way to represent our citizens and meet their needs.

The New Council under the Council-Manager form of government provides for an at-large representation via the mayor and one councilperson and three council members elected specifically by the residents of three voting districts.

The petition, which is prescribed by the state, needs to be at the Probate Judge’s office on July 5th {update 6/21 11:30am} Petition Deadline is Sat, June 29th. We will be taking up the petitions Friday, end of day June 28th at City facilities.} Judge Tim Russell will also be speaking during the mayor’s report at council meeting on June 25th. You may be interested in hearing what he says and his guidance.

Your friends and neighbors will be circulating the petitions, and copies will also be available at the library, Quail Creek clubhouse and City Hall. Following petition was approved by the Secretary of State’s office.  If a min 10% of registered voters from the last municipal election are qualified on the petition, citizens will have an opportunity to vote for the new form of government in 90 days. Download Petition

I believe Sam Gaston says it best, “If you hire a professional manager, you will have less politics in city government.” He is the City Manager of Mountain Brook for the past 25 years and a descendant of E.B. Gaston, founder of Fairhope.

You can meet Mr Gaston at the meeting Thursday, June 21st at the library to discuss this new form of government more.

Sincerely,

Mayor Karin Wilson

 

 

 

More about Mayor Karin Wilson

11 thoughts on “Council-Manager Form of Government

  1. Richard Karkkainen

    Clearly, the issue should be debated rather than adopted by edict. I suppose the new form of governance would require a much larger budget; perhaps it is justified.
    I think a transition plan should accompany the proposal. An election for a mayor and council might be included within the proposal.

    Reply

    1. Mayor Karin Wilson

      The new form of government, if voted in by citizens, would take effect next term, 2020.
      The manager salary would be approved at that time and the council/mayor salary voted in 6 months before this term ends.
      The City of Fairhope has funded administrators in the past. One might ask what is it currently costing the City in liability not to have a City Manager.

      Reply

  2. John Terhune

    Who would be responsible for hiring the city manager and who would the city manager answer to? What’s the chain of command? Just curious.

    Reply

    1. Mayor Karin Wilson

      The New Council (made up of Mayor and four council-members) hire a professional City Manager whose job description and duties defined by state. The New Council manages the City Manager and the City Manager manages day-to-day and personnel.

      Reply

  3. Anita Wilson

    What is our current councils opinion on the idea of a council/manager form of government. Also there should be NO CONFLICT OF INTEREST ON EITHER MAYOR OR COUNCIL MEMBERS SUCH AS SOMEONE BEING REPRESENTED BY AN ATTORNEY WHO MIGHT BE INTERESTED IN APPLYING FOR THE MANAGERS POSITION. THERE SHOULD BE NO ASSOCIATION TO ANYONE WHO CHOOSES TO RUN FOR THIS POSITION!!!

    Reply

    1. Mayor Karin Wilson

      I agree. Whoever is voted in for council and mayor in 2020 hire the City Manager whose qualifications and job description are defined by state statute.

      Reply

  4. Samuel Armand Bonfe

    Continuity of executing long-term planning strategy is an important part of controlled growth and management. My question is why so long for transition by 2020?

    Reply

    1. Mayor Karin Wilson

      If citizens want this form of government, it has to be voted on before the next election. The deadline on this petition I addressed in another comment.

      Reply

  5. Susan Pearce

    Why is it necessary to sign the petition and vote on this, without debate, within 90 days, if it won’t take effect until 2020?
    These are some questions I would like answers to before I could support this
    1) Doesn’t whether it would take the politics out of it depend upon who chooses the City Manager and who he or she reports to?

    2) Wouldn’t it also defuse the politics even more if all of council members were also elected at large, like the mayor? That way, those elected would have to represent all of the citizens, not just those in town, or in the older subdivisions, or those in newer ones, etc.? We are still a small enough town, I hope, that we have shared goals and dreams for our city.

    3) Why does the proposal call for 4 council persons instead of 5? Doesn’t that create an opportunity for tie votes and more gridlock?

    I think this is a very worthwhile idea to consider, but such an important matter requires more debate– not less, in my view.

    Reply

    1. Mayor Karin Wilson

      The presentation tonight at the library by a city manager was a good one. The petition is necessary for citizens to have a vote. There is plenty of time during the 90 days after the petition is signed to learn the facts and debate then registered voters to vote for or against council-manager form of government.
      1. The New Council under Council/Manager form of government is made up of Mayor, One council-member voted at large and three council-members voted by district. This 5-person council would hire an experienced City Manager whose job description and qualifications are defined by state statute. Since the City Manager would manage all personnel and day-to-day business, much of the politics are taken out.
      2. The petition which I uploaded on my blog is the approved petition from the secretary of state. If almost 700 registered voters sign this petition and turn it in by June 30th to Probate Judge, the city would be divided into three ~ equal populated districts. The Fresh Start Fairhope Group wants the petition to keep all council voted at large so they are looking into what happens if the petition is turned in after July 1st. We will be finding out more details about this scenario soon and will keep you posted. I have asked Judge Tim Russell to speak during my mayor report at Monday’s Council Meeting 6pm.
      3. Our Class size City is 8 which defines that 4 council-members and 1 mayor make up the New Council. All have one vote.

      Reply

  6. Julie

    Will be signing the petition and voting for you in 2020. Thank you for your perseverance.

    Reply

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