Thursday, October 2, 2008
THE GUARDIAN attended his usual service club lunch this week. The program about City Manager Government was presented by former Caldwell Community Development Director, Steven Hasson.
None of us ever expect Treasure Valley to look like the photo in this article but pay attention. The demographic people who make a living projecting growth statistics expect this valley to increase in population to the tune of 9 new Nampa's over the next 25 years! We will have 1 million people living here, like it or not. The question begging to be answered is: Are you satisfied with how this last cycle of growth has been managed by our elected city and county Politicos? If your answer is yes, you need not read any further.
All that is required to hold the office of Mayor, City Councilor, or County Commissioner in the state of Idaho is to be at least 18 years of age, be a register voter, and get yourself elected. Pretty slim set of credentials if you ask me. No experience in business, finance, management, or most important, RISK MANAGEMENT are required to get elected. City Managers are professionally trained and educated people that bring a strong professional background and resume to the job of City Manager. Most will have a Master's Degree and 15-20 years of experience with them to the job of City Manager.
Think about this for a moment. If you were looking to hire a CEO of a $50-100 million dollar corporation would you hold an election or would you do a talent search and hire the best possible person you could to manage that corporation. We go through that process for most of the appointed department heads in city government but not always is that the case. Cronyism and nepotism can play a role in certain circumstances. We don't always seek to get the best qualified people, make no mistake about it.
City Managers bring expertise to the three inherent areas of weakness with Mayor-Council forms of government. These weak areas are Growth Management, inherent weak management skills in a Mayor-Council form of government, and diminished administrative ability of Mayors to directly oversee city municipal operations ("face time with subordinates").
Mayor Nancolas in Caldwell serves on about 35 different boards and committees. He is gone from his office and out of town more than he is actively managing the day to day operations of Caldwell. Most of the time he is gone about half of the calendar days in any given month. I am sure the same can be said of other mayors in larger cities in this valley.
A City Manager is a full time city administrator. It is time to start thinking about what lies next for cities in this valley. Growth management and getting it to pay for itself has been a dismal failure of the current Mayor-Council government models in this valley. Risk management (reads litigation) will become a serious threat to all citizen tax dollars.
Caldwell is currently facing a huge legal liability with the lawsuit filed by Pioneer Irrigation District. Check out the PID website and your latest PID billings. Both sides are girding for a long expensive legal battle over city surface water drainage into irrigation ditches and canals. The legal costs for this battle could mount to several million dollars and years of litigation before it gets resolved.
Fifty-three percent of cities over 5,000 people have a city manger form of government. That amounts to 76 million people having made the move to professional management of their cities.
What's next for Caldwell when "Team Garret" leaves office? Will we get a repeat of the 1980's or will we adopt the recommendations in the RUDAT Study and make the change to City Manager Govt. It was on the ballot in the early 1990's and supported by our current Mayor and four other Mayors but failed by 16 votes.
Think what our cities and towns will look like 50-75 years down the road if growth continues to be mismanaged. I have a Pdf of the handout from the presentation for anyone interested. Send your request to me at email@example.com. Don't use the comments section to do your request as I do not get your email address when you post a comment.
Posted by Paul Alldredge at 11:49 AM