The second public meeting on possible Governance Transition provided more information to the Madison community. Mayor Ron Anders from the City of Auburn joined Madison Mayor Paul Finley as guest speakers to discuss the Mayoral role in the Council-Manager form of government. Officials answered community questions and received feedback.
The City of Madison will continue to share information on a potential transition to a Council-Manager form of government. As Madison grows and long term projects continue, officials want to review facts to make good decisions for Madison's future. When hiring the most professional person for the Manager position, changing to a Council/Manager form of government would provide continuity and consistency even throughout administration changes. Officials noted at the meeting that the earliest Madison would look to set an election for the community on the topic would be spring of 2023.
View the full meeting at the link. Click "Agenda" to the right of the video to follow along with the powerpoint presentation.
Questions can be submitted using this form.
Comparison of the two systems
The Council-Manager form is more “business-like,” according to Jeff Downes of Vestavia Hills. He contrasted the two forms by explaining that where the mayor sits as a voting member who functions like a chairman of the board and the council members function like a board of directors. These functions are performed in a less politicized manner. Downes explained that now his job in Vestavia Hills is to react or respond to the collective mayor and council to work in the most rational way to deliver services in an efficient manner. In the Council-Manager form at Vestavia Hills, the mayor is the face of the community while the day-to-day operations are handled by the city manager.
Qualifications and credentials of a city manager
City managers are certified and attend conferences to continue their training. At the first public meeting, Sam Gaston explained that 75% of all city/county managers have a graduate degree, usually a master’s in public administration (MPA). At the second meeting, Mayor Finley assured residents that the City of Madison would actively recruit applicants from a national pool who are seasoned professionals to apply for the job if Madison residents decide to approve a change in government.
We learned that a city manager is held accountable through a contract which lays out the term of service and expectations and through a performance evaluation process. If the city manager is not meeting expectations, they can be removed at any time throughout administrations. At the second public meeting, Mayor Ron Anders of Auburn noted the electorate are also still held accountable to the people through checks and balances of the system.
The Mayor serves as the President of the City Council, has a vote, and sets the Council agenda. In this role, the Mayor presides over all meetings of the City Council. In the council-manager form of government, the Mayor and each elected Council member have an equal voice on setting policy. They also have an equal voice on hiring and retaining a city manager in order to make certain that the programs and services approved by the elected officials are delivered effectively, efficiently, and equitably by professional staff. The Mayor is a key leader in economic development and serves as the “public face” of the City. Additionally, the Mayor is the city leader of inter-governmental and regional relations. In this role, the Mayor will engage with other elected officials pursuing the interests of the city whether at the national, state or local level of government.
Who benefits from a Council - Manager form of government?
A. Residents-because they gain continuity in city government and greater transparency
B. School system - because it can engage in long -term strategic planning with the city
C. City Hall - because a trained, certified city manager runs the day-to-day operations of the city
Timeline and Process
The transition to the Council-Manager form of government starts with the citizens of Madison and can only happen with their consent. When a special election can be held will depend on how quickly the requisite number of petition signatures are obtained. The earliest the City of Madison would consider an election to the people is by spring of 2023.
1. Citizens sign a petition (900+)
2. Probate Judge reviews the petition
3. Mayor calls for an election
4. City holds a special election
5. Mayor transmits results to the Governor’s office