Upon the resignation of city manager Mike Randall last week, the Aurora city council Tuesday made time to discuss the possibility of changing the city's style of government.
The city currently operates with a council/city manager style, in which the city manager oversees much of the day-to-day operations of the city and the department heads and is answerable to the city council. With Randall's departure, the council is considering the possibility of adopting a form of government that includes an elected mayor and board of aldermen, as well as a hired city administrator.
Current mayor Rick Boyer stated he is not in favor of the change, feeling that it could give a mayor too much power. However, city attorney Ken Reynolds told the council that in his experience with that style in other towns he represents, mayors very rarely take advantage of their extended power.
Reynolds added that not much is different between the two styles of government, but he is not aware of an instance in which a town had changed from the current style to the proposed style.
While councilman Steve Ramirez expressed that he would like to see the change, other members of the council, including Stephen Wiles, said they would like to look further into the pros and cons of making such a change.
Also of note is that an election would have to be held to decide a mayor and board members if the change were to occur, and due to the fact that current members of the council reside in what would be the same wards under a board of aldermen style of government, it is possible their positions would be lost.
The council will consider the subject again at a later date, presumably after acquiring more information on the process of changing styles and how it would affect the city.
The other main topic of discussion on the night was the possibility of pulling bond issue currently on the ballot for August. Ramirez opened the discussion by saying he felt it was not the right time to put the issue in front of the voters, as it would come on the heels of a sewer rate increase enacted last year.
Ramirez said he acknowledged that the rate increase does not cover all the maintenance and improvements that need to be made to the sewer system, but he felt it would be better to try to get a loan without the bond issue.
Boyer responded by saying that the main reason for putting the issue on the ballot was that the Department of Revenue, which offers grants and loans at the lowest rate, will not give/loan money to cities without approval from citizens via a bond issue vote. He added that just because the city gets approved for a certain amount through the vote does not mean it will use the funds right away, just that it allows the city to get what it needs when it needs it.
Wiles added that even if the vote fails initially, the city would have a chance to better educate the public on the matter and try again at a later date. After more discussion, including various points made by members of the audience at the meeting, the council decided it will continue to consider the options, leaving the issue in place for the time being.
In addition to the two main discussions, the council voted on several items of new business. First on the agenda was to add Oplinger to the city's authorized signers for city accounts, an action made necessary by Randall's departure.
The city also voted to approve several reappointments to various boards and commissions, including:Mercy Aurora Hospital board of trustees -- Gale Pate, Jr. Aurora Housing Authority board -- Mike Madewell Planning and Zoning Commission -- Darold Farless Aurora Park board -- Eddie Breeding Aurora Building Board of Appeals -- Jeff Heller, Richard Werner, David White and Craig Ellis
The council also heard from building inspector Trent White on an agreement for the demolition of a number of properties in the city. White informed the council of the lowest bid for the demolitions, $28,840 from Woody's Express. Ramirez asked if it would be better to spread the demolitions out throughout the year, and White responded that it would depend on whether the contractor would charge more to do them separately rather than all at once. The subject was tabled until that distinction could be made.
Later, White advised the council on the subject of possibly insulating the American Legion building, which currently is unoccupied. The council agreed that the city should look into the cost of fixing the building up to be rented out. White agreed to write up a bid request.
In the last item of new business, White recommended the lowest bid (Kurt Mooneyham) for lawn mowing at properties where the owners could not take care of the lawn themselves. The council voted unanimously to allow the agreement to move forward.
After a closed session to discuss (1) legal actions, causes of action or litigation; (2) leasing, purchase or sale of real estate; and (3) hiring, firing, disciplining or promoting employees, the council adjourned. The next regular meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m., May 23, at city hall.