SHERIDAN — City council met for a strategic planning session Tuesday night and heard presentations related to the functioning of the city and discussed broad goals for future projects.
City attorney Brendan Kerns presented council with a draft of a city handbook he said was designed to aggregate and clarify city rules and procedures.
Kerns said Charter Ordinance 2158, the ordinance that created the city administrator position, contains a repealer clause, which means if it contradicts or conflicts with any other city ordinances, CO2158 takes precedence. However, several of the ordinances CO2158 has altered have not been rewritten to reflect the change, and therefore Kerns said citizens, businesses or city officials reviewing the city code could come away with an unclear or incorrect understanding of city laws.
For instance, city ordinance 2-9.1 says several city positions, such as the police chief, the fire chief and the public works director, shall be appointed by the mayor with the consent of council.
CO2158, however, says that except for the city administrator, city attorney and city court judge, all employees will be appointed by the city administrator with the consent of council. In the proposed handbook, Kerns said ordinance 2-9.1 has been revised to assign the responsibility for appointing city officials, except the three noted in CO2158, to the city administrator.
“All of the changes we are wanting to make are minor and the version you have in front of you is just a draft,” Kerns said.
The proposed handbook also describes the powers and responsibilities of city officials and the procedures city officials are required to follow. The first chapter, for instance, outlines the performance expectations and formal authorities and powers of the mayor and city council.
Kerns stressed that the handbook does not change any of the rules that govern how the city functions, it simply clarifies them and organizes them into a single document.
City administrator Mark Collins said the city is planning to provide a more comprehensive orientation for incoming council members, which would include meetings with all the city department heads, and the handbook would assist with that process. The city will have at least one new city councilor after November’s election, as Councilor Alex Lee will not seek another term. Councilors Erin Hanke and Patrick Henderson are both seeking re-election.
Kerns said most of the handbook draft was compiled by city clerk Cecilia Good by drawing on handbooks from cities across the state as well as materials from the Wyoming Association of Municipalities.
Council members were presented the ordinance at Tuesday’s planning session and did not have time to review it in depth. Collins said a discussion of the handbook is scheduled to be included during council’s September study session.
• Northern Wyoming Community College District planning director Robert Briggs led council members through a review of the strategic planning goals it established during a planning retreat in January. Without discussing specific projects, Briggs asked council members to describe what successful outcomes would look like in several different categories. For projects related to economic and community development, council members said they wanted to see projects move forward and outcomes that created jobs, increased tax revenue, improved the vibrancy of the community and facilitated a healthy housing cycle. For projects related to facilities and infrastructure, council members said they wanted to ensure utilities and streets were properly maintained and well utilized. Council members said projects related to heritage and history should maintain the downtown, keep the city inviting, support the value the community places on history and respect historic contexts. Councilors said they wanted projects related to water quality, open space, pathways and recreation should increase access to those resources and increase connectivity among pathways and recreation sites. Council members said projects related to community health should generally increase community health, decrease suicides and should work toward establishing metrics for tracking that progress. Council members said public safety projects should decrease violent crimes and ensure residents had access to clean community facilities. And council said projects related to seniors and families should make the community more senior friendly, provide health care options and improve the community’s education options.
• Briggs also presented a refresher course on Robert’s Rules of Order, the parliamentary procedures used to guide council meetings.
• Douglas City Council member Rene Kemper made a presentation on strategies for consensus building in local government.