Council debates mayor, administrator duties
In a study session, Tonganoxie City Council members on Monday debated who should have day-to-day control over city employees.
Should it be the mayor, who with council approval, appoints the fire chief, the police chief and the city's police officers?
Or is it the city administrator, who three department heads on Monday said should be in charge?
"My goal would be to be consistent, for all department heads to report to one person," said council member Jason Ward. "Then let's say that person is the city administrator, and then have the mayor work with the city administrator to get those reports."
Mayor Dave Taylor said that no department head has reported to him during his three years as mayor.
¢ The existing city administrator ordinance says that person "assists in the management of all administrative departments and services of the city." In addition, that person is charged with making "recommendations to the governing body as to personnel actions for city employees and administrative officers."
¢ But it is the mayor, according to city code, who "shall have the superintending control of all officers and affairs of the city." Further, the fire chief "shall be under the supervision of the mayor." And the mayor "may suspend at any time any appointed officer. Employees, other than appointed officers may be removed by the mayor upon recommendation of the respective department head."
¢ In addition, the city code says, "All executive and administrative authority granted to limited by law shall be vested in the mayor and council."
"For the past three years, they have reported to the city administrator," he said.
But according to city code, the mayor has power over several city employees.
And while the city administrator is charged with assisting in the management of the city, the police chief questioned whether that truly is accurate.
"Do you really have supervision if you don't have disciplinary authority?" asked Police Chief Kenny Carpenter. "Right now, neither the city administrator nor myself has any disciplinary authority over any police officer. ... I don't think the mayor and city council wants to know every time a police officer is late for work. I don't want to come and bother the council every time a guy is late to work twice, when I would bother the city administrator."
Council member Velda Roberts said the city administrator has "the authority and the ability to work with the city department heads on a daily basis. That is a part of assisting them in the management of their department. If they're doing something wrong and they can't between them work it out, then he brings those issues to the governing body because maybe we need to make a policy change."
But City Administrator Mike Yanez said he needs some supervisory control over department heads.
"I can be their buddy, but I can't direct? I can be warm and fuzzy and I can help them, but I can't give them direction? If I wanted Butch (Rodgers) to attend a meeting with some engineers on Thursday morning, I can't direct Butch to do it. But the mayor can direct Butch to do it."
Butch Rodgers is the city public works director.
Yanez said his job performance is judged, in large part, on how all city employees do their jobs.
"The city administrator's neck is in the noose for you guys," he said, pointing to Rodgers, Carpenter and Fire Chief Dave Bennett.
"Are you going to fire the mayor if that department screws up?" he asked the council members. "No, you're going to probably fire the administrator."
Three of the five council members were present at Monday's work session. In addition to Ward and Roberts, Jim Truesdell attended the meeting.
Council members Steve Gumm and Ron Cranor were absent.
At the meeting's end, it was agreed that city attorney Mike Kelly would work on a draft of a proposed ordinance, outlining the city administrator's duties.
"It probably will take several drafts to get something finalized," Kelly said Tuesday.