Recently, Mayor Miller has made comments regarding the council’s refusal to “do the work” needed to define the roles and responsibilities regarding the mayor and the city administrator. The council disagrees. These roles are defined in both city and state statutes. Additionally, the City of Sheridan Ordinance #2158 outlines the duties of the City Administrator. The background on this particular ordinance is that it was originally created by Senator Enzi when he was the Mayor of Gillette. Since that time many other communities within the state have adopted a similar ordinance because the ordinance works. Additionally, then Mayor Enzi did not have problems defining his roles and responsibilities.
Furthermore, the nature of these comments are somewhat baffling; Mayor Miller has, on numerous occasions, made public statements that under the direction of the City Administrator, the City of Sheridan is functioning at a high level and both he and the administrator work well together. However, individually the mayor has continued to state his dissatisfaction with the arrangement and his wishes to eliminate the administrator position as it stands and provide a significant pay increase for the mayor’s position. The council quite simply is not in agreement and has expressed this in a rather blunt fashion on more than one occasion. Uniformly, the council supports Ordinance #2158 and the City Administrator position. Consequently, the council is not sure what roles and responsibilities need defining, and when pressed for clarification the response is at best rather vague. Thus, the confusion seems to purely rest with the mayor.
This certainly does not hamper the mayor from a strong mayoral position! This means that unlike some cities where the mayor is selected from the ranks of the council to serve for a year at a time, in our form of government, the mayor is directly elected by the people, and the council is separately selected as well. Ultimately, as a strong mayor, Mayor Miller still maintains many tools with which to navigate:
1. The mayor acts as the Chairman of the Board for the city council. Working with council to fashion a strategic vision for the community. A vision including economic growth, quality of life, affordable housing and job creation.
2. The mayor helps set the agenda for each council meeting and “setting the agenda” is a powerful leadership tool!
3. The strong mayor form of government retains a veto authority over all actions of the council. This includes all ordinances, resolutions and other decision of the city. That veto can only be over turned by a 2/3 majority vote of council.
4. The strong mayor form of government also retains a line item veto. That means that the mayor can pick out any portion of any action of council, any ordinance or resolution, and line item veto that portion. Which, again, requires a 2/3 majority vote of the council to be overridden. The President of the United Stated doesn’t even have a line item veto!
5. The mayor acts as the voice of the community, both on the local and state level. Thus, Mayor Miller has what Teddy Roosevelt called the “bully pulpit”. This, too, is a considerable tool in the hands of a leader determined to set a compelling strategic vision for the community.
In closing, as the old saying goes “there are bigger fish to fry”, there are a lot more items which should be on the agenda other than roles and responsibility, because the current system is working very well for the community. The day to day operations of the city are proceeding smoothly and efficiently. The council would suggest that Mayor Miller focus on the bigger issues such as affordable housing, economic development, diversification of business, quality of life, planning and growth management. These sorts of higher order topics will ultimately benefit the entire community. The council wants the community to know that we have worked well with Mayor Miller and standby ready and willing to support him wholeheartedly in these important issues.
The Sheridan City Council submitted the guest editorial above. The council includes Patrick Henderson, Kelly Gooch, Richard Bridger, Erin Hanke, Alex Lee and Thayer Shafer. The editorial was printed exactly as it was sent to The Press, without typical edits from the Associated Press stylebook.