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City manager plan panned

by Bob Gaetjens | Editor Published: March 26, 2014 12:00 AM

The idea of a city manager form of government got a cool reception from City Council when it was discussed during a March 10 meeting.

Resident Ken Claypoole, who has formed a political action committee called "City Manager 44241," said he plans to develop language and circulate a petition to place a charter amendment on the November ballot creating a city manager form of government.

Under a city manager system, Claypoole said the mayor's duties would be more "ceremonial" than they are now.

"The strength of the mayor-council-manager form of government is that the policy setting aspect of the city remains with mayor and City Council, who are elected by the residents," according to http://www.citymanager44241.org, the website of the PAC Claypoole has formed. "The administration and daily operation of the city are run by an experienced administrator."

"Even if you get a good mayor, in four or eight years, you don't know what you're going to get," he said. "With a city manager, you would have an administrator who was hired for his professional expertise in running a city."

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"I'm giving City Council the opportunity to help," he told Council. "The question comes down do, 'Do you want to be involved in the process?' I'm looking at a timetable to have the language drafted and ready to go by May 1."

Although Council did not vote whether to help craft the language of the proposed charter change, several members said they are not interested in helping.

"I am slightly disturbed that we are having this conversation this evening," said City Council President Julie Field. "This is not something I support. I like that the mayor lives here; I like that the mayor has a vested interest."

Mayor Glenn Broska said he's not a fan of the city manager form of government.

"A city manager only serves one master; he serves or she serves a Council, whereas a mayor serves 16,000 masters," he said. "The bottom line is, Mr. Claypoole is advocating that the people of Streetsboro are not capable of picking their own mayor, and I don't believe that."

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Several speakers at the meeting said they believe Claypoole is pushing the proposal because he doesn't think Broska is doing a good job, but Claypoole said he was a proponent of a city manager form of government before Broska was elected.

Broska also said he likes the city's current bicameral form of government "where Council keeps the mayor in check and the mayor keeps Council in check and there's accountability to the people."

Broska said he's trying to stay out of the debate.

"I'm really staying out of that fray because I feel that anything I would say would sound like I'm defending my position," he explained.

Claypoole compared the city manager style of government to a business.

"It would be more like a $22 million business where the mayor and Council are the board of directors and the city manager is more of a CEO type of person," said Claypoole.

He said empowering City Council to hire a city manager also removes politics from the equation. The requirements to be a mayor are residency in Streetsboro for at least two years, an age of at least 23 and the ability to run a successful political campaign.

"That process may or may not get the best qualified person to run the city," he said. "The [city manager] obviously will be qualified or they wouldn't get hired."

City Council member Bridget Pavlick told Claypoole she believes he is "wasting a lot of time and money," adding passage would affect a variety of city operations.

Council member Steve Michniak said he doesn't think the city is ready for a city manager form of government yet, although both Kent and Hudson operate under city manager systems. He also said he would prefer Council not help put the measure on the ballot because it might signal to voters the legislative body supports the proposal.

Council member Jeff Allen, who invited Claypoole to bring the proposal to Council, said he wanted a public discussion of the matter because it's potentially "life-changing for the city of Streetsboro." For more information, visit http://www.citymanager44241.com/.

Email: bgaetjens@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9440

Twitter: @thegatewaynews

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