SHERIDAN — City council members delivered sharp rebukes to Mayor Roger Miller during Monday’s regular meeting in response to a public letter Miller released over the weekend that urged city residents to vote out the two council members seeking re-election and elect councilors that would work with him to eliminate the city administrator position.
Miller’s letter details his dissatisfaction with Sheridan’s current form of city government and notes that when he ran for mayor, he was opposed to the city administrator form of government created by Charter Ordinance 2158. As such, he took his election as a mandate from voters to work to repeal CO2158 and reinstate a strong-mayor form of government. However, the current council is opposed to the repeal of CO2158 and Miller’s letter asks voters not to re-elect councilor Patrick Henderson and council Vice President Erin Hanke and instead elect council members who will help him overturn CO2158.
But the letter takes a belligerent tone by repeatedly referring to city council as a “rogue council,” calling CO2158 a “socialist ordinance methodology” and accusing past councils of “dirty, spiteful, backdoor politics.”
Miller’s letter also charges that city administrator Mark Collins inserted a raise for the city administrator position into the city budget, for which the mayor issued a veto that was overturned by council.
As city administrator, Collins is responsible for preparing the city’s budget and submitting it to the mayor and council for approval, but Collins was allocated a raise as part of a pay-scale adjustment that increased the salaries of all city employees, which Condrey and Associates, a consulting firm the city hired to assess how competitive its wages were on the relative labor market, recommended implementing. Further, Collins declined the raise and is still paid the salary outlined in his contract.
Henderson said he wanted to take more time to reflect on the letter before responding to it in detail but made clear he was upset by its release.
“Mr. Miller, I do not want you to take my silence tonight as a form of agreement with your disingenuous letter,” Henderson said. “Understand that I have something to say about your unhinged behavior, and I have something that I am not pleased with in your writing that untruthfully trashes me, this council and previous councils that have served this community.”
Council President Richard Bridger said he was disappointed in the letter, as council had recently held a planning retreat that focused on visioning, team building and civility, and council was moving forward with a draft of a council workbook that defined the mayor’s duties, authorities, roles and responsibilities, as the mayor had previously requested.
“But like that of a child, the mayor throws a fit because he does not get his way regarding the administrator position,” Bridger said. “This is a foolish action that serves only to waste time and energy that should be used for the betterment of this community. The mayor has worked overtime at alienating himself from council and staff, which is unfortunate and not in the best interests of the citizens of Sheridan. I have pondered an official vote of no confidence, but that would just cause further division and serves no purpose.”
Hanke said her feelings largely echoed the sentiments expressed by her fellow council members and delivered a short statement criticizing the mayor for the tone of the letter.
“I too was astounded by the uncivil discourse that is continuously demonstrated by our mayor,” Hanke said. “Such vitriolic dishonesty indicates a real lack of character and competence. Sheridan deserves better.”
During the meeting’s public comment section, Jacob Martin, who is running for city council, asked Henderson and Hanke if they would be able to work productively with the mayor if they are re-elected to the council. Both Henderson and Hanke said they could, and despite the differences between council and the mayor, believe the two sides share common goals. If re-elected, the two council members said they would move forward by focusing on those areas.
Miller, for his part, agreed and said if the incumbent council members are re-elected, he will take it as a signal from voters to move on from his issues with CO2158.
“The fact of the matter is, we do agree on quite a few different things,” Miller said. “I have said from day one, from back when I started running my campaign, that I believe the mayor should be the CEO of the city and that’s the way I believe…If after this next election I have the same exact council to move on with, then we will move on and this issue will clearly be dead.”
The full text of Miller’s letter is attached to the online version of this article.
• Collins presented council with an update on the city’s revenue from sales and use taxes. Sheridan saw a 4.9 percent increase in sales and use tax revenues for the current month. Collins noted that receipts for those taxes are always two months behind, so the increase he presented Monday night reflect receipts from June.
• Sheridan Travel and Tourism executive director Shawn Parker provided an update on his office and reported 2017-18 was Sheridan’s second strongest year ever with $632,370 in revenue.
• Council approved a project design and build contract with Hayward Baker and the Trihydro Corporation for the city’s Hillslide Stabilization Project.