OPINION

Siegel: What’s best for Goodyear, city manager or strong mayor?

Posted 2/24/21

Goodyear is growing in amazing fashion in both commercial and residential development.

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OPINION

Siegel: What’s best for Goodyear, city manager or strong mayor?

Posted

Goodyear is growing in amazing fashion in both commercial and residential development.

There are also public projects in the process of being built and this means new infrastructure, school capacity and other aspects of growth. Perhaps increased public transportation will be needed as well.

One of the questions that should at least be asked is whether the city manager-council form of government will be most effective during this continuing growth process.

This form of government allows the council to set policy, pass ordinances and direct the city manager to carry out those policies and laws.

The city manager is responsible for carrying out the policies of the mayor and council, and for the operation of the government on a day-to-day basis.

The city manager also hires and fires all city employees, with the exception of the magistrate and city attorney.

The salary of the Goodyear City Manager Julie Arendall is $243,153. The mayor presently receives a salary of $23,000, and that will be increased to $30,000 in the next term.

It would be reasonable to suggest that a full-time mayor operating the city in an administrative capacity could earn $100,000 and thereby save in excess of $170,000 per year. It also would allow the people to directly determine if they believe the city is operating satisfactorily and effectively by voting every four years to retain or dismiss a sitting mayor.

Having established the present elements of Goodyear city government, we now come to a question that is perfectly reasonable to ask: Should we have a strong mayor form of government?

The procedure for changing the form of city government is for the people to vote and change the city charter. That is the local government document that drives administrative procedures in Goodyear.

There is a series of charter questions that will be on the ballot in a March 9 special election for the people to approve or disapprove. A city charter commission recommended these changes to the charter for the voters to consider.

The same could be done if the people chose a strong mayor form of government and eliminate the city manager position.

This is no reflection on Ms. Arendall. She is well-qualified for her position with more than 20 years in local government, including serving as Peoria’s assistant city manager in Peoria she was hired in Goodyear.

She also is certified as a city manager with ICMA-CM credentials issued by the International City Manager Association.

However, the real question is whether to consider the possibility of changing the form of government in Goodyear.

A strong mayor would be elected by the people and directly accountable to the residents of Goodyear. Presently, the mayor has limited power in the operation of the city and is primarily a voting member of the council.

As noted, we see amazing growth in the city. Some would argue that as that growth occurs, the people should have a greater voice in local governmental operations through elected and not appointed public officials.

The range of issues that Goodyear will be facing is only going to be more complex and challenging as time passes and continued growth occurs.

Is the present form of government most effective, or should change be considered?

The city is functioning well and reason for change does not seem necessary. Nevertheless, as the city grows, all options should be considered and this change is perhaps one of them.

Editor’s note: Mike Siegel hosts a weekly radio talk show on KFNX 1100 AM. He lives in Goodyear’s PebbleCreek community.

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