Although the Ramsey Charter Commission thought it had made its final
recommendation years ago, it will be asked to reconsider its
recommendation that the city move to a council-city manager form of
by Tammy Sakry
Although the Ramsey Charter Commission thought it had made its final recommendation years ago, it will be asked to reconsider its recommendation that the city move to a council-city manager form of government.
The Ramsey City Council March 23 unanimously voted to send a charter amendment for consideration to the commission that city keeps the strong mayor-council form of government with a city administrator.
If the city follows the 2006 charter amendment, it will be required to change to the council-city manager form of government on Jan. 1, 2011.
Mayor Bob Ramsey is leading the charge to keep the city from changing to the council-city manager government.
Changing over to the manager form takes away some of the council’s power, he said.
If the city were to switch, as is currently required by the charter, only the city manager would be allowed to fire department heads, Ramsey said.
“With the mayor-council government, the council can get rid of a department head that is not cutting it in the council’s view,” he said.
It also would give the manager more protections than the city administrator currently has, he said.
Although the commission discussed the issue for more than 10 years before recommending the change, Ramsey said he was “disappointed in how it was pushed through” by unanimous vote of an outgoing council Dec. 28, 2006. This issue was debated for a number of years prior to that, said Councilmember David Elvig, who was on the council at the time of the charter amendment was adopted.
“The city is growing and it is needing to run more like a business,” he said.
The previous council approved it at the 11th hour and disregarded any input from incoming council members, Councilmember Matt Look said.
“It was ramrodded through and residents didn’t get to vote the measure,” he said.
“We worked on the change over four years. It was not last minute. We followed the process and we finally knuckled under to make a decision,” said Elvig.
The council is asking the charter commission to consider recommending the “mayor-council plan” amendment.
If the commission does recommend the amendment, it will come back to the council, which will vote of the amendment or determine if the question will go on the November ballot, said City Attorney Bill Goodrich.
If the commission does recommend the “mayor-council plan,” the council could vote on the amendment or vote to put it on the ballot.
Although Mayor Ramsey said he intends to put the question on the ballot, the council could adopt the amendment by unanimous vote. If the full council approves the amendment, it would not have to be placed on the ballot.
“Logistically, this action is way out of kilter to the time frame available for the action the council must take as the charter is now written,” said Charter Commission Chairman Ben Deemer.
“My personal opinion is they are a day late and may be a dollar short because of time. If the action is on the November ballot and does not pass, (the council) must complete the actions necessary to have/appoint a city manager” by Jan. 1, 2011 as required by the existing charter, he said.
Although the charter commission met March 29 to discuss the issue, the proposed amendment was tabled until a future meeting in April or May.
Tammy Sakry is at email@example.com