Changing our plan of government is a costly proposition. In our voter's pamphlet, the proponents of Proposition No. 1 only mention the salary of a city manager. What is not addressed is the cost of head hunting, interview travel costs, moving fees, a benefit package and the typical golden parachute severance package costs, (costs incurred at every changing of the guard). City managers often employ their own assistant, a potential cost not mentioned as is the cost of holding a special election in early 2014 and the cost of city attorney fees and staff to rewrite the city codes.
Changing to a city manager means we no longer have an elected official with veto power or a leader to answer to the people. The council, after it is elected, will choose the figurehead mayor from amongst its own and select the city manager. The manager does not have to be a member of the community and will only need to answer to a majority of four councilmen.
Some city manager governments in our locality are Olympia, Port Townsend, Bainbridge Island and Port Angeles, all of which have had to cut their services and personnel to attain a balanced budget. Port Townsend has been sited twice by the state for financial failures. Port Orchard has remained stable throughout difficult times, its budget is balanced, without cuts to service or personnel. Proponents use an IBM study of 100 of the largest cities in the country to support the theorized benefits to our city, yet the claims do not equate, as evidenced above.
Proponents indicate a city manager will provide stability through long term employment, yet by their own admission, the average tenure is seven years. Bainbridge Island is on it's third city manager in five years, at a huge cost.
Lastly, is the cost of citizen representation. How will the people be heard? The council has been asked repeatedly for compelling reasons for the proposed change and estimated costs, yet the questions go unanswered. It was requested that the proposition be broken into two parts, yet it wasn't.
Only Councilman Fred Chang faithfully attends town hall meetings and interacts with the citizens there, the rest do not. A "no" vote on Proposition No. 1 is one way to protect our voice, our vote, our pocketbook and our opportunity to actively participate in our government.
Elissa Whittleton | Port Orchard