It is the city's duty to ask why. How do we know our current form (of government) is the best option for our city? If not, what documentation provides the most appropriate form of government our city should adopt?
The eighth edition of the Model City Charter (from the National Civic League Inc.) states, "Back in 1944, on the occasion of the National Civic League's 50th anniversary, Harold Dodds, then president of Princeton University and a former executive director and president of the National Municipal League, described the purpose of a model as being … to set patterns clearly and specifically, delineating the best practice and the best thought on a problem, to correct existing defects, to set high standards which provide something to fight for instead of against ... the model laws brought stability, dignity and scientific fact to 'reform.'"
So, what are the facts?
According to the Florida League of Cities (as of September 2016), there are four options that the city of Crestview can undertake and a fifth hybrid of any of the four options:
Council-manager, 66 percent, 272 cities
Council-strong mayor, 12 percent, 49 cities
Council-weak mayor, 20.5 percent, 85 cities
Commission, 1.0 percent, four cities
Hybrid, 0.5 percent, two cities
We are among the 20.5 percent or 85 cities within Florida running a council-weak mayor form of government. A closer look at the data provided by the Florida League of Cities reveals that of the 85 cities running a council-weak mayor form of government, the populations are 5,000 or less.
According to The Florida Municipal Official's Manual, a publication of the Florida League of Cities with the assistance of the John Scott Dailey Florida Institute of Government: "The council-manager form plan has been especially attractive to small- and medium-sized localities. It is used in a majority of American municipalities with populations of 25,000 to 250,000 … The most common form of city government in Florida today is the council-manager form.
“A second common form, found in many smaller municipalities, is the council-weak mayor form. In Florida, in recent years, most changes of municipal government form have been from some other form to the council-manager form.
"Approximately 270 Florida cities (out of more than 400) have a position of manager or a similar position, such as ‘administrator.’ In all Florida cities, members of the council or commission are elected by the voters of the city. The mayor may be simply a member of the council, elected by the council to serve as mayor; may be a separate office (that is, not a member of the council) or elected by the people. Certain administrative positions are filled by elections in a few cities. These include the offices of clerk, police chief and fire chief."
Under the eighth edition of the Model City Charter, the following alternatives are provided under the model as it relates to the council and mayor.
Council elected at large; mayor elected by the council
Council elected at large; mayor elected separately
Council elected at large with district residency requirement; mayor elected by the council
Council elected at large with district residency requirement; mayor elected separately
Mixed at-large and single-member district system; mayor elected by the council
Mixed at-large and single-member district system; mayor elected separately
Single-member district system
Additionally, Section 2.03. Mayor (states):
(a) Powers and Duties.
(b) Election — Alternative I — Mayor Elected by the Council
Alternative II — Mayor Elected At Large
To reiterate, The Florida Municipal Official's Manual does notate certain administrative positions are filled by elections in a few cities. These include the offices of clerk, police chief and fire chief. The eighth edition of the Model City Charter notates, "Section 2.08. City Clerk.
"The city council or the city manager shall appoint an officer of the city who shall have the title of city clerk. The city clerk shall give notice of council meetings to its members and the public, keep the journal of its proceedings and perform such other duties as are assigned by this charter or by the council or by state law."
If The Florida Municipal Official's Manual notates a variation of The Eighth Edition of the Model City Charter where administrative positions are filled by elections in a few cities, why was the council-manager form of government presented at the town hall meeting utilized where the city clerk is not appointed by the city council or city manager?
Why are we deviating from the standard best practice with regards to reform for our city?
My position as a resident of Crestview is that the city put into place the Model City Charter as referenced with the Florida League of Cities and by The Model City Charter, 8th Edition, National Civic League. In addition, any variations to such an alternative should not be disbursed as common practice or methodology to the public.
Additional research with The Florida League of Cities also found that the information being disseminated to the population of the city of Crestview is inaccurate with regards to implementation of this possible government change. Formation of a new city model will not require the terms of those in elected positions to be completed to the end of their elected term. (Terms) can end immediately upon adoption of the new city model or a transition period can be adopted where the new form phases in for a small period of time while the old phases out.
At this time, I would request the City Council to bring Ms. Lynn Tipton, director, FLC University, to come and speak to the council and the citizens to ensure the most accurate information is being given to our city and that we are all being properly educated for the benefit of the city progressing in a continued positive direction.
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