Tracking code caldwell guardian

Friday, August 29, 2008

Are Caldwell, Nampa and Canyon County Ready for City Manager Govt.

THE GUARDIAN has been asking himself how many of our elected officials at city and county levels would have their jobs if they had to go through a formal hiring process. Moreover, how many of these well meaning folks would you put in charge of a $50-100 million dollar company as CEO? The only requirement other than getting elected is to be a registered voter. This qualification set appears weak, at best, when you start scratching on the surface of the issues our communities face today.

In 2007, more than 3,500 (49 percent) of the 7,171 U.S.cities and towns with populations of 2,500 residents or more operated under the council-manager form of gevernment. This structure is also used by more than 370 counties. More than 92 million people in the U.S. live in communities that operate under this form with professionally trained and educated city/county managers. (taken from ICMA webiste)

City Manager form of government grew out of political reform movements to facilitate a system of local government which combines strong political leadership of elected officials with the strong managerial experience of a professional local government administrator.

The goal of the City Manager is to provide professional administrative assistance to the City Council in establishing policies, programs, and services offered to the community.

A City Manager is appointed by the City Council to serve as the Chief Administrative Officer of the organization. The City Manager coordinates fulfillment of policies and programs established by elected City Councils. The City Manager provides overall direction to departments that administer City programs and services; implements inter-departmental programs for human resources, strategic planning, and emergency preparedness; and coordinates intergovernmental relations, lobbying, economic development, and public information efforts. The City Manager also oversees projects such as property acquisitions, special studies, such as annexations and development impact fees.

City managers typically will hold at least a Masters Degree in Public Administration or Management with excellent skills in finance, accounting and knowledge of governmental affairs. Good ones typically have 15-20 years of education, training and experience. They save cities and counties money!

How do they do,experience and training beyond just being a registered voter with a desire to do the right thing.

Currently, only three cities in Idaho have city manager government, Twin Falls, Lewiston, and McCall. It may be time to join the other 49% of cities in this great country by a vote for professionally managed government.


  1. This makes a lot of sense. Perhaps one day we can get a mayor who would step down and except this form of government for the good of the city, not the good of his/her ego.

  2. My erstwhile campaign for Mayor of Boise (ended because of an unexpected death) had two main components to its platform.

    1. Upon election, my first order of business would have been to "demote" myself and push to transform the Mayor's Office into a far less expensive "ribbon cutting / baby kissing", civic cheerleader type office and switch to a professional City Manager style government, and;

    2. "Enthusiastic Plagiarism". Very few - if any - of the problems faced here in Idaho are unique to Idaho and have long since been successfully addressed by other communities across America and around the world. Whether we're talking about schools, roads or sewer systems. Abandoning what I view as a nearly insatiable desire to constantly reinvent the wheel, I would have co-opted, and where possible improved upon, proven solutions.

    The "enemies" of the City Manager approach are rarely the Mayor's themselves as much as the City Council's and entrenched special interests in a given community who stand to lose power and influence when forced into a paradigm of greater accountability and logical thinking.

  3. Long overdue, for sure. The problem is finding someone who is not only qualified but also impartial. How can we hire a professional manager if he or she is to be handpicked by the mayor and city staff and subject to fire-at-will provisions?


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