The Baldwin City Council discussed the administrative policy for the city administrator Monday night but decided to postpone any action and further discussion until the May 10 meeting.
Council members Jeff Parrish, Joe Elam and Theron Ayers said they favor the policy that provides that the mayor remains the chief executive officer of the city and provides that the mayor can delegate certain executive and administrative powers to the city administrator. Council members Robert Bohannon and Dustin Mealor were against the policy. Bohannon asked that the policy be carried over to the May work session for further discussion.
The policy also provides that in the event of a conflict between this administrative policy and the city charter, that the city charter shall control.
Council member Parrish started the discussion on this issue several months ago.
At the council meeting on April 9, Parrish passed out information defining the authority of the mayor as outlined in the city charter and that of the city administrator.
On Monday, city attorney David Syfan explained that the administrative policy codifies what Karen Deggs, city administrator already does.
“It outlines her authority to run the city and provides the vehicle for her to do that,” Syfan said.
Parrish has made it known from the start that his wish was to clarify the mayor’s authority and that of the city administrator.
“Twice the mayor and council have fought over this,” Parrish said. “Now is the time to write the policy, while we have good employees in these positions.”
Syfan said, “I sort of see this (policy) as a Band-Aid to sort of get us through until next year when the council can put more time and thought into a new charter.”
The city’s current charter is over 20 years old and does not provide for a city administrator’s or city manager’s position.
Degges voiced her opposition to the change.
“This takes some things that I do away from me and gives them to the mayor,” she said. “This should have been done when the position was vacant.”
Council member Bohannon said several times during the discussion the city needs a new charter.
Parrish said, “Right now, the charter is the law.”
Finance director Audra Payne said, “Why wouldn’t you write a resolution that goes along with the way things are being done? We have been operating as a city manager model.”
Parrish and Mayor Jerry Neace both said Baldwin is not to the point of needing a city manager.
Degges said, “Every since the day I was hired, I have viewed all six of you as my bosses. I view each one of you equally.”
Parrish said, “But you shouldn’t. You should report directly to the mayor.”
SPLIT ON AGENDA
The council was also split on action taken defining how the agenda is set ech month. In a 3-2 split vote, with Bohannon and Mealor opposed, the council approved the following agenda procedure: reasonable efforts will be made to set the agenda one week before the meeting, unless there is an emergency or urgent issue that needs to be added to the agenda; the city clerk will be responsible for compiling, distributing and posting the agenda as required by law. The city clerk will communicate with the mayor and city council before a final agenda is published; each council member and the mayor have the privilege to add items to the agenda; the city administrator may add items to the agenda, but coordinate with the mayor for items added unless the issue is an emergency or is urgent; and the mayor has the right to move or delay items on the agenda to another meeting in order to help maintain orderly and well managed meetings. The mayor will make every reasonable effort to communicate with the council member or staff that placed an item on the agenda, if the Mayor feels a need to delay an item put on the agenda by that particular council member or staff.
Parrish said, “The council needs to have final approval of the agenda and ultimately that should be the mayor. We need to know what is on the agenda before the meeting.”
Degges said it is not always possible to get in touch with the mayor.
Parrish said, “If the council doesn’t have final approval of the agenda then things are going on that we don’t know about.”
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