City government

Commissioners learn about proposed government structure from council and municipal manager – Shaw Local

OREGON — A referendum on the Nov. 8 ballot will ask Oregonians to approve a move to a municipal council-manager form of government.

The new structure would shift day-to-day administrative responsibilities from commissioners to a city manager, Mayor Ken Williams said at the April 26 city council meeting. Voters would continue to elect a mayor and commissioners who set policy and guide the city’s vision.

“So pretty much the same as before,” Williams said. “In terms of transparency, you won’t see anything [change] as a citizen or outside the town hall this will change. It just gets easier on the internal administration side.

If the referendum passes, city administrator Darin DeHaan would become city manager after the April 2023 election, Williams said. The new form of government would take effect after the first meeting of the newly elected Oregon City Council.

“I think, first and foremost, I would serve the city in any capacity it needs,” DeHaan said when asked for his thoughts on the change. “I’ve seen over the past two years that this really improves the efficiency of city operations, so I think it’s an important decision for citizens to make.”

DeHaan was hired as city administrator on March 31, 2020, after city council members voted to create the position. Prior to that, DeHaan served as Oregon’s police chief for 15 years.

On February 23, members of the Oregon City Council voted unanimously to follow an ad hoc committee’s recommendation that the city pursue the city council form. Members of the ad hoc committee are Roger Cain, John Dickson, Rick Bunton, City Commissioner Melanie Cozzi and Otto Dick.

Williams said he formed the ad hoc committee at the request of citizens.

“Part of the reason [for the change] is that our city is growing,” Williams said. “We have an annual budget of $5 million. We have $22.8 million in assets, including $6.5 million in cash and the rest in fixed assets—buildings and so on. We have 22 employees, seven buildings, eight cars, 11 trucks, all kinds of construction equipment. We have a lot going on.

Under Oregon’s current form of government, the four commissioners and the mayor are administratively responsible for the sewer and water department, city hall staff, the police department, the building inspector, and the service. of the streets, Williams said.

That means the commissioner associated with a specific department could come into that department every day and tell people what to work on, and employees would have to listen, he explained.

“It places a heavy administrative burden on board members,” Williams said. “We don’t really always do that. We tend to get a little involved, but we just don’t have time to go and report every morning.

Transitioning to a municipal council-manager form of government is a two-step process, he said. The first step was to create a post of municipal administrator.

This milestone was achieved with the hiring of DeHaan and was well accepted by members of the community, Williams said.

“If you talk to people, they’re really happy to have someone they can talk to,” he said. “Basically, 85% of the council’s administrative tasks have now been transferred to the city administrator. But to get that final 15%, the state of Illinois says you need a referendum because you have to officially change the form of government to city manager.

The second step is to move from a form of government commission to a form of municipal council. This requires a referendum, according to state law, and will officially move administrative duties from the commissioners to the city manager.

No staff members are added, Williams said. DeHaan’s title would change from city administrator to city manager and his job description would adjust slightly.