Small ponders becoming a part-time mayor

By Jenni Vincent
Staff Writer
Posted 6/6/07

DAPHNE — Mayor Fred Small is a busy man, between trying to run the city and his own business.

Small said he averages 50-60 hours per week doing city work, counting days spent in his office and evenings attending various board meetings.

Even …

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Small ponders becoming a part-time mayor

Posted

DAPHNE — Mayor Fred Small is a busy man, between trying to run the city and his own business.

Small said he averages 50-60 hours per week doing city work, counting days spent in his office and evenings attending various board meetings.

Even on the weekends, it isn’t unusual for him to attend a city event, he said.

Take the recent Memorial Day holiday, for example.

It wasn’t a time for Small to rest or celebrate with family, he said.

That’s because he was the master of ceremonies at a museum service, before dashing off to help promote another charitable event.

In between administrative and ceremonial duties, Small devotes time to his own personal business, Fastime.

But after about two years of this pace, Small is thinking that a change might be in order.

He’s proposing that he no longer be a full time mayor, that his hours — and salary — be dropped to that of a part-time official.

The hiring of a city administrator would be “non-political since this person wouldn’t be appointed,” and would allow handling of day-to-day duties, Small said.

Small said he currently has the funding for this position.

This type of arrangement isn’t uncommon among city governments and wouldn’t impact citizens directly, he said.

Council members aren’t yet sure how they feel about this proposal or if Small can do it without their approval.

Councilwoman Cathy Barnette said she is familiar with this type of city government.

She also feels there are advantages as well disadvantages to this proposal.

“The idea of a city administrator actually came up before the last election. And in theory, it’s not a bad idea, because it has the potential to take the politics out of city business,” Barnette said.

But there are details that would have to be addressed, she added.

“For example, I believe that a city administrator should have to answer to council — not the mayor,” Barnette said. “Otherwise, I would not be in support of it.”

Barnette said she doesn’t believe Small can hire anyone in this capacity because council hasn’t yet created that position.

“I think that it would take a council action to move to that form of government,” she said.

Councilman Gus Palumbo said he worries that a city manager isn’t directly accountable to the citizens.

“We are still basically a small town and we need to be responsive to the voters. A city manager would not be and yet that person would be making executive decisions,” Palumbo said.

Palumbo said he “sympathizes” with Small’s schedule and offered that council members may be able to assist with some ceremonial duties.

“But I just don’t know if half-way or three-quarters of the way through a term we should change the form of city government,” he said.

Councilman John Lake said he would be willing to consider and discuss the idea further.

He suggested that a council members retreat would be a good arena for this discussion.