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Madison considers city manager-style of government

MADISON — A community meeting has been set to discuss the potential transition to a city council-manager form of government for Madison. The meeting is 6 p.m. June 22 at City Hall.

A change to a council-manager from the city council-mayor format would require the approval of Madison voters in a special election.

This system of government is used in in 63% of cities with more than 25,000 people and 48% of all cities. These cities include Phoenix; San Diego; Dallas; Cincinnati; San Antonio; Kansas City, Mo.; and Mecklenburg County, N.C.

Madison is under a council-mayor format with seven voting district representatives. Under the new plan, the city would be redrawn into six districts, with the mayor elected at-large and serving as the seventh vote. The mayor would also serve as the president of the city council. A city manager would be hired to oversee day-to-day operations.

A Governance Transition Committee was appointed by Mayor Paul Finley last August to study what form of government would be best. In January, the committee unanimously proposed a council-manager government.

Committee member Jim Ross said the council-manager government will provide lasting benefits.

“Ultimately, it is the citizens of Madison who will decide if we are to move forward with this style of government,” he said.

The committee has outlined the benefits of transitioning to a council-manager format.

  • Places a credentialed city management professional in charge of the day-to-day operations of the city.
  • Provides a consistent continuity of city management even as elected officials change.
  • policy, vision, and strategy functions will still fall under the mayor and city council.
  • City manager is tasked with executing the same policy, vision and strategy.
  • Clarifies a clear, concise reporting chain and oversees day to day performance of department heads and city staff.
  • City manager is accountable to the mayor and city council
  • Keeps politics out of the city administration and allows the city to be run like a business
  • City districts would be re-drawn into six districts (currently seven) and the mayor would be at-large city council president and voting member

Ross said the committee is scheduling public information sessions.

“Next week’s first community meeting will allow the public to learn more about the process, ask questions, and hear from city managers from other cities in Alabama,” he said.

The meeting will include city managers Sam Gaston of Mountain Brook and Jeff Downes of Vestavia Hills, who will describe their roles and duties and will be available to answer questions.

A form is available for residents who are unable to attend meeting to submit questions.

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