Tuesday, January 4, 2011

City Council Fiscal Committee Wants Contract Authority

Authority to approve city contracts is not the business of the city council as evidenced by city ordinance 34- 1/2-1. That ordinance section says the mayor or a person designated in writing by the mayor is authorized to sign all contracts and agreements on behalf of the city and that the signature of the mayor shall be attested by the city clerk. ..I suppose the council could change the ordinance authority to them but why?

The city charter says the city council shall act as a part-time policy making and legislative body, avoiding management and administrative issues.  The executive and administrative powers shall be vested in the mayor.  City contract administration is clearly a management and administrative issue. City Ordinance 2-35 says the mayor, by executive order, shall have the power to prescribe such administrative rules and regulations as the mayor deems necessary or expedient for the conduct of departments...subject to his authority....and that these executive orders are filed with the city clerk. Executive orders clearly set out contract administration under the mayor.

It seems clear to me, at least, that contract authority and administration rests with the mayor and his administration.  To pursue changing this process so the council can approve city contracts is not good business sense and will certainly bog down the business of the city.  The mayor, by city charter, is the chief executive officer and runs the day to day operation of the city. The council may not like this mayor or how he does business, but the fact remains that the city charter clearly sets out the authority of the mayor.  Day to day business cannot be bogged down by legislative oversight of the council. Nothing will get done in a timely manner. 

At some point, the city council has to trust the mayor, the city directors and mid managers to prudently run the daily affairs of city government. City Charter sets out the mayor's authority whether the council likes it or not.  Contracts may have been listed in the city council agenda back in the 90's but back then it was a new form of government and everyone was feeling their way around how to to govern under the home rule charter.  Sometimes too much information in the council agenda takes away from the important information that actually requires the attention of the city council besides making the council meeting a marathon session beyond what it already can be.

If the council is interested in the information, my advice is to sit down with the mayor and the administration and talk about what you are interested in and why and come to some agreement how that information can be furnished to the council on an information basis. Getting involved in the day to day administration of city government is not the role of the city council.There are plenty of responsible, competent people in the adminsitration who clearly understand their fiscal responsibility to the taxpayers.

Let the mayor and his staff do their jobs.

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