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Port Orchard City Council moves ahead with changing city government

Councilman Rob Putaansuu asked fellow council members if they want to “fish or cut bait” on changing from a mayor-council to a council-manager form of government.

And a majority of the Council wants to seek changes and put it before the voters.

The issue was a major topic once again at the City Council’s April 16 work session.

Pataansuu said Council has four options. One option is council-manager government and remain a second-class city, but that would require action at the next Council meeting on April 23.

Another option is to reclassify as a non-charter code city and keep the mayor-council government.

The third option, which Putaansuu and a majority of the Council favors, would be a one-step process which would change the city to a code city and council-manager form of government.

“This would bring the issue to a head and resolve it and were done,” Putaansuu said.

Council would have to pass a resolution that would be subject to a referendum by the voters in November. Ten percent of the voters from the last municipal election would have to request a referendum.

The ballot measure would state if the City wants to be classified as a code city and change the form of government to a council-manager. All council members would be up for re-election in February.

Putaansuu said all Council seats would be up for election with the top seven finishers being elected. The top three vote-getters would have 3-year terms, while the remaining four would serve one-year terms.

A November election would cost the City $1,000, but if a February election was needed it would cost up to $30,000 — $20,000 if a school levy election was attached to it.

Councilman John Clauson said the City would either hold a public hearing or open house and allow citizens to weigh in on the issue of changing the form of government.

“We can’t take a position until we’ve given the community an opportunity to weigh the pros and cons,” Clauson said. “The question that would be posed is should we go forward with the change to a code city and council-manager or not.”

Councilman Jerry Childs said he favors having a city manager.

“Because of where the city is, we’re growing and moving ahead with economic development and having a strong leadership team with a professional, well-trained person can take us to the next level,” Childs said.

A city manager would cost about $120,000 per year, according to City Attorney Greg Jacoby.

Jacoby said a city manager couldn’t be hired until the election of new council members — if the form of government is changed.

Clauson told Mayor Tim Matthes, if voters approve the change, he could seek a council position.

“It’s not like we’re throwing you out,” he said. “You would have the same opportunity as us for a council seat.”

Jacoby said, under the council-manager government, each year the Council would elect a mayor.

There will be more discussion at the May work session.

Since January, Council has gathered information and heard the positives and negatives of both forms of city government from various people — including Andrew Neiditz, a former city manager for Lakewood and Sumner.

 

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