It’s worthwhile to consider this alternative form of government at each charter review. I heard they did but rejected it. It would be interesting to know why. The Charter Review Committee should consider appointing a city manager. Our city now has a budget approaching $100M with over a dozen important departments covering multiple areas that are becoming increasing complex. The administration of this organization could be better served by a City Manager who is trained in municipal management and has the required skill set and proven abilities. Note that historically city managers were usually engineers since many large city issues involve technical details. Think expanded land fill, Three County Fair Ground expansion, problems of deferred maintenance. They also have flexibility with numbers and mathematics. I’ve mentioned this issue to friends and have received numerous replies such as:
· A city manager only works in small towns. Answer: Worcester, Lowell, Cambridge and Phoenix have Council-Manager governments.
· A city manager only works in big towns. Answer: 23 cities and towns in Massachusetts with population (in 2000) below 30,000 have Council-Manager governments.
· Indeed as of 2010 the 7249 cities and towns with populations over 2500 have 49% Council-Managers versus 44% for Mayor-Council structures.
· A city manager is expensive. Answer: Yes, but their abilities can make savings that more than make up for the added expense.
· You can vote a Mayor out-of-office. Answer: A city manager’s contract can be terminated within two weeks rather than waiting for another mayoral election.
· There is a larger pool of available city managers to choose from versus mayoral candidates allowing for a better choice.
· City managers come with a documented and verifiable managerial skill set and job history.
· City managers would be politically independent.
For answers to other technical questions contact Jared Dailey at International City/County Management Association in DC. On a state and local level contact the Massachusetts Municipal Management Association which would also provide information and guidance.
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