Key issues facing council Tuesday: Skippers, levy, mayor-city manager shift

Expect another well-attended Edmonds City Council meeting Tuesday night.

The council will take additional public comment on a council proposal to buy the vacant Skippers restaurant property, consider a resolution to place a levy on the Aug. 17, 2010 primary election ballot, and also begin discussing a proposal by Councilmember Michael Plunkett to change the city’s governance structure from a mayor-council to city manager-council form of government.

The council is also likely to know the outcome of a counter offer the city submitted to Cascade Bank on Friday regarding the Skippers property. The counter offer, approved by the council last Friday following discussion in executive session, would give the city the option of an additional 60 days beyond the original 60 days the bank requested for due diligence if a more extensive environmental assessment is required.

The meeting begins at 7 p.m. in the Council Chambers, Public Safety Complex, 250 5th Ave. N.

  1. Change in city structure, hey everybody what do you all think about this one? This should make some good conversation

  2. The change to City Manager structure is an interesting idea. The proposed benefits are separating the “Mayor” into two sets of responsibilities – management of the city, and ceremonial duties.
    – There is an unspoken dark side, though. The City Manager is not chosen by the voters, but rather, by the City Council. Somewhat akin to having the Governor chosen by the Legislature.
    – Proponents will say that this will make the Manager “more responsive to the voters”, but actually, the Manager will serve at the whim of the Council. This part has me a bit uneasy about the balance of power shifting too much to the Council.
    – However, just because the reasoning of proponents thus far has been flawed, doesn’t mean it’s not a good idea. I’m eager to hear what others have to say – especially people with experience in cities with such a structure.
    — Anyone online with such experience – please speak up!

  3. Todd has made many good points. I use to favor the City Manager form of government, but probably not at this time. I have one major reason for my change in thinking; to my knowledge there currently is not a single council member who has any experience hiring and managing senior managers – which a well-qualified City Manager would be.

  4. The City Council legislates now…how would creating a city manager yes man enhance their ability to create the laws, codes, change the comprehensive plan and approve/direct planning?

    And once again, how much is this going to cost Edmonds residents?

    More dedicated staff for council members, no doubt. This seems to be high on a few council members wish list.

  5. I’m opposed the a City Manager. I think the Mayor and Council provide a check and balance system (a fundamental concept in our form of government). Without a Mayor, the Council would have too much power. This would be like Congress hiring the President.

  6. Yes, the discussion will be interesting, perhaps entertaining. As with most models of governance, this one has worked well in some places, not in others. More important is defining the skill set needed by our elected leadership to succeed in the current climate. The City is facing immediate financial difficulties, perhaps on the scale that has bankrupt others. If we retain the current model, and the Mayor does not run, then interested candidates need the skills and experience to lead Edmonds through difficult decisions. Since these discussions begin now, we don’t have the luxury to change models in mid-stream. Let’s get through today’s difficulties first, and then have this conversation.

  7. I would be interested what kinds of cuts the mayor has to make without a levy, in his budget, It would be interesting to see how much more money the city actually needs to keep things going the way they are, My thought is is once he comes up with a budget he will have a scope of how much more money he will need, thats something the citizens need to see

  8. In recent months I have listened to two former respected Edmonds elected officials, one who is for, and one against. I was also approached by our current Mayor who surprised me by stating he supports the Council manager system, and he sought my support. I’ve studied this issue for a few hours and have reached a conclusion.

    The Council manager system is no panacea. Problems and conflicts will still remain. Shoreline has been pointed out as an example of this. And yet the Council Manager system is the most popular choice for cities the size of Edmonds. The Council would have up to date budget information or heads would fall for sure.

    The number one problem with the current systm in Edmonds as I see it is that in the past ten years there have been numerous tug of war conflicts. This is the result of the fact the Mayor has been at times the controlling legislator himself, 2009 was the worst year as he then basically controlled four council members’ votes. Now he has only two–Wilson and Peterson. And also a switch would allow elimination of at least one, perhaps two high paying administrative positions.

    On the other hand, the Council is likely to be comprised of higher performing people with the career advancement to Mayor a possibility; which a strong motivater for some. For the past fifty years, perhaps longer, the Mayor has always come from the Council.

    I reject Wilson’s shoot from the hip, poppycock arguement that “its not right for Edmonds.” He blathers incessantly but usually doesn’t know jack. His numerous failures at higher office betray his current goal to be Mayor himsrlf,

    I believe the Council should, without hesitation, place the issue on the ballot and let the people decide.

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