After a series of discussions that started before the April election, the Mission City Council is poised to make broad changes and clarifications to its meeting structure and to the duties and authority of the city administrator.
Under the proposed ordinances discussed by the council Wednesday, the city administrator will be supervised by the governing body. The administrator can be fired by a majority council vote on the recommendation of the mayor and two councilors or the council, acting alone, can fire the administrator with a super majority vote. The administrator will be appointed by the mayor with the consent of the council.
The administrator’s authority was the subject of some discussion in relation to the position of police chief, which will be coming to a council vote this month. The city currently is operating with an acting police chief after the resignation of John Simmons last year. The process of selecting a new chief has now bridged the election of a new mayor and new council members. A committee interviewed candidates for the job and came up with a recommendation before the election. The council is expected to review the candidates in executive session next week and to vote on a new chief before the end of the month.
The proposed policies give the city administrator the power to recommend to the governing body the hiring of all department heads and to supervise all departments. Councilor Amy Miller first suggested the chief should report to the mayor and the governing body. City Administrator Gerry Vernon said the management team is the “heart and soul” of the city and if the chief is not under the administrator, they would not be part of the management team.
“I think the police chief should report to the governing body,” Mayor Steve Schowengerdt advocated. Finance director Laura Smith, said after 25 years in city government, she prefers all department heads report to the city administrator, which “prevents an end-run” to the council. The proposed policy puts the chief under city administrator supervision.
The council also is changing its committee structure to put all members of the council on both the community development committee and the finance and administration committee. A majority of the councilors attended both meetings anyway. The two committees will meet back-to-back on the first Wednesday of the month with the second Wednesday reserved for overflow business. Public comment will be allowed at the committee meetings.
The council also will elect its own committee chairs and set the agendas for those meetings. The change puts more control in the hands of the council.