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Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Candidates Respond, Part 6: Should American Fork Have a City Administrator?

Editor's Note:

LocalCommentary.com: By ordinance, American Fork's form of government includes a part-time mayor and a full-time city administrator. Currently, there is no city administrator, and the mayor works full-time for part-time pay, with the assistance of a full-time chief of staff. Is this acceptable? Is it effective? Does it save the taxpayers money? If elected (or re-elected), will you do anything to change it?


I support the ordinance that outlines American Fork's form of government. Our present mayor spends a lot of time directing staff two or three levels below his position in routine, day-to-day operations. His time should be spent in dealing with other mayors on inter-local issues and with other levels of government, such as the Mountainland Association of Governments and county leaders. He should also focus on economic development within American Fork, and his efforts should be directed towards increasing business activity and employment opportunities in our city. We need a city administrator to handle the reins of the full-time force and keep the ship sailing smoothly, even in rough waters.


If I'm reelected, I'd change nothing, as I am the mayor who works full time for part time wages. I think the the City Council would say that the current arrangement is effective. I have no requirement to earn a living for my family, as I am retired. This may be something to consider for the future, especially as the city grows significantly in population.

Leisa Hatch comments (9/11/09):

Can I just say thank you for posing this question.

In reviewing the last year or so of city government actions, it appears to me that this is a very important issue. (And one that was brought forward by Councilmember Rodeback and other council members at a council retreat last January, I believe. I think it is about January 15, 2009, in the minutes.)

I believe a case in point was the double resolution regarding the I-15/500 East interchange passed at the city council meeting on Tuesday night. Two contracts were approved. One was the original sent from UDOT, and the second was the city's attempt to recoup $370,000-ish in landscaping and improvements that UDOT will be destroying. The contract must be signed by yesterday or the city will lose a $100,000 incentive. (What?)

In reading back over the minutes it seems like UDOT sent a letter to American Fork City back on June 4, 2009, outlining a proposal. None of this information was brought forth to the council until after a response was already past due. (I think it was the city council meeting of about July 16, a full six weeks later.) The hastily prepared response says something about having no idea about the June 4 letter until that council meeting. (How could this oversight happen?)

Basically, it has put the city in a position of being reactive (and maybe a little too eager to grab an incentive without fully analyzing the costs). So, in a public meeting the city says, we pass and approve your contract but we really really wish you would give us an extra $370,000. It is the kind of action that makes our city look a little . . . foolish. (But what else is a council to do when put in this unfortunate situation?)

It points to the need for a highly qualified and experienced city administrator or manager. It is conceivable that the money saved in appropriate and timely negotiations on this single issue could have paid that salary for a couple of years.

Having said that, my personal opinion is that the current ordinance as it applies to the city administrator position is in need of refinement. A city manager position with vast municipal experience that answers to the council as well as the mayor would be a step in the right direction.

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