Public meetings set in June for residents to address changes in city classification, government

Residents will have a chance to weigh-in on whether the City should consider changing its classification from a second-class to code city, and to change its form of government form mayor-council to council-manager.

During the May 21 work session, the Council agreed that the public can address the items during next month’s regular meetings.

The Council is looking at a single-ballot measure asking voters to change the city from a second-class to code city, and change the form of government form mayor-council to council-manager.

City Attorney Greg Jacoby told the Council there could be one or two ballot measures.

“After looking at the options, the cleanest one was the all-in-one measure,” said Councilman Rob Putaansuu.

Putaansuu said if there are two measures on the ballot and if voters approved both changes, the process would take longer for the changes.

He said having two ballot measures would create a special election in February.

“If we do both at the same time, it quick and swift,” Councilman Jerry Childs said.

If passed, Jacoby said, the City would officially become a code city after the election is certified, but can’t become a council-manager government until a new council is elected the following year.

“In the meantime, the mayor is mayor and this council is the council,” he said. “Only after the new election (for council) is certified that you become a council-manager form of government.”

Putaansuu said because it’s a “huge issue” there should be two public hearings.

Jacoby said there is enough time to notify the public about the meetings.

“Whether you call it a public hearing or public meeting, you’re making time available during both the June meetings for public comments regarding the proposed changes,” said Jacoby.

Jacoby told the Council if they want to move forward with the changes they need to adopt a resolution no later than the July 22 meeting, so the measure can be place on the November ballot.

He said the Council can take action after the second meeting in June or first meeting in July.

Childs presented the Council with a report on Port Townsend City Manager David Timmons, after he and Councilwoman Cindy Lucarelli met with Timmons during a two-hour meeting.

He said Port Townsend changed to a council-manager form of government in the late 1990s and Timmons was instrumental in the town’s success.

Child reported that most first-time city managers remain on the job for a couple of years, but Timmons has been Port Townsend’s only city manager for 15 years.

Timmons had experience as a city manager in Michigan and Vermont, and found the Port Townsend position though the International City Managers Association.

He noted Port Townsend was able to build a new fire station and construct underground utilities through a FEMA grant researched by Timmons.

Childs said under Timmons, Port Townsend changed its’ Lodging Tax strategies and now funds for tourism and marketing which has benefited the town.

“The difference between an average mayor and a qualified city manager is the ability of the city manager to use their experience and resources in financial strategies to accomplish the task before them,” Childs said.

Downtown Port Townsend is vibrant with non-stop events and cooperation with the business community mostly developed during an economic downturn, Childs added.

“How did all this happen? Leadership from a professional city manager,” said Childs.



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