At the recommendation of Assistant City Manager Lynn Smyth, the Statesville City Council has eliminated or modified items that will require approval at future meetings. The changes are effective immediately and represent an attempt to streamline the council meeting calendars, which can sometimes contain as many as 30 action items.
“Over the years, city policies and practices have resulted in the presentation of items to the City Council for approval that might better be managed at staff level,” Smyth said. She offered examples: temporary street closures due to special events and city co-sponsorship requests. “Under established state law these types of items don’t need council approval.”
Smyth presented the council with a list of 14 types of action items she felt the council may wish to have handled on a staff level. Increasing the purchasing authority of the city manager generated the most discussion. Council member Jap Johnson initially resisted any change from the current $1,000 cutoff. However, his motion to keep the present policy died for lack of a second. Ultimately, he went along with Councilman Roy West’s motion to increase the authority to $20,000 after the staff agreed to provide an informational list of purchases for the council as part of each meeting’s backup packet.
Among the other changes approved:
▪ Temporary street closures and special event co-sponsorships will approved by city staff, rather than the council.
▪ Selling or scrapping surplus items valued at less than $30,000 will no longer require city council approval. Previously, surplus items worth more than $5,000 required action by the council.
▪ To address anomalies in the salary structure, the city manager was granted the discretion and authority to adjust pay scales by up to 5 percent. Previously, any such changes required council approval.
▪ Emergency outside utility connections can be handled by the city manager rather than waiting for the next council meeting.
▪ Rather than having the council adopt separate budget ordinances for each fund, ordinances will be consolidated into one document for annual adoption.
▪ The city manager was given authority to apply for grants when no city match is required, rather than waiting for the council to approve.
▪ The staff was given the authority to have insurance reimbursements added back to departmental budgets rather than having to seek council approval for each insurance payment.
There were also several recommendations the council rejected, including the elimination of a second reading for ordinances under consideration. Though no longer required by state law, the council decided to retain the practice. They also balked at giving the staff authority over financial write-offs and airport leases.
Dave Vieser is a freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org.