Sheridan City Council Will Continue To Consider Changes To City Administrator Position

Jun 5, 2019

Credit Bob Beck

The Sheridan City Council defeated a proposed charter ordinance at Monday's meeting that would have repealed the law establishing the city administrator position. The vote was 5-2; only Council President Clinton Beaver and Sheridan Mayor Roger Miller voted in support of repealing the existing law.

Miller proposed the failed ordinance that would have dissolved the city administrator position. The council created the existing city administrator position by a charter ordinance in 2015, which gave control of the city's day-to-day operations to an appointed official.

Miller said his intent was to give residents the opportunity to challenge the city council's decision on the city's management structure.

"Bottom line: it's important to the community, and that's why I put it out there [for] the community to have that as an option," he said.

Miller said the proposed ordinance would have gotten Sheridan back to the Wyoming statutes that outline the city's government structure, which is supposed to be a mayor-council form of government.

Critics of the city administrator position say it makes the city's government more like a city manager style of government, which Sheridan's residents did not choose.

At the same meeting, the city council unanimously gave initial support to a proposed ordinance that would clarify the responsibilities of the mayor and city administrator. The proposed ordinance would supersede the existing city law on the administrator position.

But Miller said he isn't satisfied with the proposed replacement ordinance, even though he voted in support of it at Monday's meeting. He said he also is not pleased with the city council's decision to strike down the proposed repeal.

"This [current] form of government is ridiculous... and it's fiscally irresponsible," he said.

Miller said he wants the mayor not just to serve as a figurehead of the city but to make decisions on the city's operations, which he feels isn't happening under the existing structure.

If the council ever passes a replacement ordinance for the city administrator position, Miller said residents could challenge it by submitting a petition that would trigger a special election on the issue. Sheridan residents previously voted on the topic in 2008 in a special election.

If residents voted down the replacement law while the existing ordinance is still in place, legally, the position would still be there.

But if the existing ordinance is repealed before residents voted down the proposed replacement, the city administrator position would dissolve and the city would be managed by the mayor and city council.

A council subcommittee has been studying the issue since February over concerns of who should have authority over various aspects of the city.

Sheridan City Councilman Jacob Martin, who is on the subcommittee that developed the proposed replacement ordinance, said after studying the issue, he found that the city administrator has been beneficial to the city's operations.

He did acknowledge there are some problems with the existing law and said the replacement ordinance will help the government run smoothly.

"We feel like this is much better, and I think will serve the city of Sheridan well," Martin said.

Mayor Miller has the option to reintroduce the proposed ordinance to repeal the city administrator position. Though he said he hasn't made a decision on that.

The city council will debate the proposal to clarify responsibilities two more times.