The question of whether to switch to a full-time mayor is heating up, with prominent voices raised on either side and the West Jordan City Council poised to send a 15-page voter-information pamphlet to every city household.
Voters will decide in November whether to change from the current council-manager form of government to a council and full-time mayor government with a full-time chief administrative officer.The latter would cost approximately $58,000 more, but supporters contend it would be worth it.
Former city manager: No
However, former West Jordan City Manager Terry Holzworth, who resigned in May after 13 months on the job, doesn't think the city should change its governmental structure or go to a full-time mayor.
His argument is philosophical, rather than financial.
"If it ain't broke, don't fix it," said Holzworth, who now works as assistant project manager for the Central Utah Water Conservancy District.
"I think the city can be managed very well with a professional manager," he said. "My concern is that we won't always have people running for the office of full-time mayor who have the skills and qualifications to manage the personnel and technical issues facing a city that size."
`Would lead to power struggles'
Holzworth also is wary of what might happen to the balance of power in city government with a full-time mayor.
"You watch the power struggles that seem to occur in places like Salt Lake City and Sandy over what seem to be fairly minor issues and we find we burn a lot of energy working through the systematic problems created by the adversarial situation set up between a full-time mayor and council," Holzworth said.
$2,500 for mailings
Meanwhile, the West Jordan City Council plans to spend $2,500 to send out the voter-information pamphlets, which tentatively are scheduled to be mailed in early October.
West Jordan Mayor Ken Miller said $2,500 is a worthwhile investment considering the importance of the issue and its long-term implications for the city.
Other full-time mayors
Chris Buttars, who led a committee studying the subject and wrote the majority opinion favoring the change, said a part-time mayor doesn't have time to effectively address city and citizen concerns, and West Jordan's interests aren't well-served in an area where other communities have full-time mayors who spend hours lobbying for their cities.
Buttars said "it's no accident" that other cities with full-time mayors have gotten substantial highway improvements and interchanges that led to tax-rich commercial developments.
Further, Buttars said, the pool of money for such things as a community college or highway widening will keep shrinking and West Jordan needs to actively pursue its fair share now. "This city is standing on the crossroads of decisions that won't be made again in our lifetime," he said. "West Jordan would be extremely foolish not to support this."
As for the question of professionalism, he said, a full-time mayor would be ably assisted by a professional chief administrative officer.
The information pamphlet was prepared by City Recorder Rori Andreason. It contains a history of the issue, explains the two forms of government, estimated cost comparisons, a resolution outlining how the proposed government would be structured, and an opinion section with rebuttals.
City officials said they hope to get a sample ballot to include with the pamphlet.