City commission sends charter proposal to ballot
Last updated 8/4/2016 at 8:33pm
The proposed city charter for Havre will be on the ballot on Nov. 8.
The Government Study Commission voted 2-0 Thursday night with Perry Attichson absent to put the proposed city manager form of government on the ballot that will be mailed out to voters on Oc.t 11.
The proposal calls for:
• Establishment of greater home rule. Under this provision, the city will have some authority that is now yielded to the state
• Creation of a seven-member City Commission that will replace City Council. One member will be elected from each of the four wards, two will be elected at large and the mayor, who will preside at commission meetings and perform ceremonial duties, will be a commissioner member elected at large.
• The hiring of a professional city manager to run the operation of city government. The manager will perform the duties now performed by the mayor. The manager will work for the city commission.
The study commission will also make nonbinding recommendations to the city government on how it can best improve its operations.
Study Commission Chair Dave Brewer said his panel has no authority to do anything more than make recommendations, but the proposal will be presented to city officials for their review.
The recommendations include:
• Since city hall is open until 5 p.m., the city judge’s office should also be open until 5 p.m. so people can pay fines and conduct other business. The office now closes at 3 p.m. If this can’t be done, some other arrangements should be made so that people can at least pay fines and fees.
• There should be more meetings of city department heads, perhaps monthly but at least quarterly.
• If the commission-manager form of government is defeated, the city should look at hiring an assistant to the mayor or a human resources director to handle some of that work.
• Department heads should periodically report on their work to the governing council.
• Annexation of property adjoining the city should be vigorously pursued.
• The city should adopt Class 2 status.
Class 2 status has been a controversial topic. It would enable the city to create a part-time of volunteer fire department. But Brewer said it would make it easier for the city to obtain state and federal grants and make it easier to attract city manager candidates. The city would be competing with cities its own size and smaller.