“This will be on our council agenda,” Mayor Bill Hereford said at the second of two public hearings to discuss whether the city should hire a city manager. “Hopefully we will get a motion and a second and get a vote on it.”
Talladega City Manager Brian Muenger was the guest speaker at the second public hearing Thursday.
“What are the benefits to Talladega with a city manager?” Muenger said. “I think it has installed a sense of fiscal responsibility in the city.”
Muenger said in the past, the city of Talladega had to take out a loan to meet payroll.
“That is absolutely unacceptable,” he said.
Muenger said the city now keeps a mandatory reserve in place and keeps a comfortable operating margin.
“We have achieved a degree of financial responsibility, and that is the number one thin, I think,” he said.
Muenger said a city manager has also helped streamline the departments. The city saved money by making all purchases through a single department and bidding out purchased items.
“We created and filled the city planner position, and do in-house grant writing,” he said. “These things can stretch limited dollars further.”
Muenger said the city council gives input to the city manager.
“At council meetings, the agenda is put together by my office with proposals put in,” he said. “I don’t have a vote. I can simply put proposals to the council.”
Muenger said some proposals are sent back to be reworked.
“The city manager doesn’t strong-arm things through the council,” he said.
Muenger said the most important skill for a city manager is communication.
“Contempt can build up if communication isn’t kept up,” he said. “The council knows what is going on in my office and what we are working toward at any given time.”
Muenger said if a city manager doesn’t properly communicate, the council can immediately remove him or her. In a mayor-council form of government, a mayor who does not properly communicate with the council could be elected for multiple terms and with no real forward progress being made in the city.
“The issue of hiring a city manager is something the council discussed back and forth several times as something to look at,” Hereford said. “I absolutely favor doing this. I think it is the way we should run municipal government in this country.”
The city has the option of creating a city manager position by ordinance, or changing to a council-manager form of government by a vote of the people. If the city manager position is created by ordinance, the city manager appoints all employees except the police chief and fire chief, who are appointed by the city council. The mayor must vote to hire and fire the city manager.
“The way I would like to see it come is by ordinance to create the position, then urge the citizens to start the petition and finalize it with a legislative act,” Hereford said. “I would love to see this council put a city manager in or start the process.”
Hereford said a city manager would provide continuity of management.
“With a city manager, the balance and efficiencies and continuity of management is great,” he said. “All I want to see is our city do well.”
Councilman Greg Gossett said Pell City has never been run like a business.
“It has always been a good old boys’ network,” he said.
Council members Dot Wood, Donnie Guinn and Gossett said the council as such has not taken a position yet on whether to hire a city manager.
“I would like our residents to call or e-mail me to let me know what you want to do,” Wood said.
Guinn said he also wanted residents to call their council member and provide input.
“I hope we have this matter approved or put behind us within the next 60 days,” Hereford said.
Contact Elsie Hodnett at email@example.com.