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Our Opinion: Action will allow council to follow proper procedure

Our Opinion: Action will allow council to follow proper procedure

Credit Councilman Weber with restarting process

February 17th, 2013 in News

The Jefferson City Council will have a new opportunity to follow the proper procedure for restructuring municipal government.

At issue is a proposal to leave the finance director post vacant and create the position of assistant city administrator.

You will recall creating the assistant was one of three options proposed to council members in closed session by City Administrator Nathan Nickolaus last month.

In that same executive session, city employee Bill Betts was promoted to assistant city administrator, even though the post had not yet been created by the council.

We criticized the closed session as illegal because creating a position is not a personnel matter.

Nickolaus defended the closed session, contending the post was intertwined with promoting Betts.

Either way, the process was an example of placing the proverbial cart before the horse.

Council debate and public input about the merits or drawbacks of the government restructuring began after, not before, the restructured position was filled.

Credit First Ward Councilman Bob Weber with announcing his intention to withdraw the restructuring proposal at Tuesday night's council meeting.

"I feel that we need to go back and study this more and just go back to the drawing board," Weber said. "We've all received a lot of comments from citizens and I just feel that at this point in time we need to go back and take a look at the process."

We agree, wholeheartedly.

Weber's action will allow the council to follow proper procedure, which traditionally includes submitting a proposal to an appropriate committee for an evaluation and recommendation to the entire council.

The proposed assistant city administrator position, as outlined, would combine the duties of the directors of finance and information technology. We believe a city of our size with its $31-plus million annual budget deserves a full-time finance director. Our 10 elected council members may or may not agree. But we urge them to arrive at their decision about city reorganization in a manner that is open, inclusive and transparent.