‘Strong mayor’ group releases proposed city charter

Filed under: Daily News |

The next Colorado Springs mayor would be able to appoint key members of his administration and earn a salary of nearly $100,000 under a proposed city charter released today by Citizens for Accountable Leadership.

Supporters of the change to a “strong mayor” system plan to collect about 24,000 signatures during the next few months to place the charter amendment on the November ballot, said spokesman Kevin Walker.

The draft calls for the mayor to be a full-time city employee and to receive a salary equal to 110 percent of an El Paso county commissioner’s pay, about $98,300a year.  Council members would continue to receive a $6,250 annual stipend.

“I haven’t seen the specific changes, so I can’t comment,” mayoral candidate Tim Leigh said. “But with so many changes, the challenge they’ll have is in marketing.  It’ll be hard to sell so many things at once.”

It’s not clear whether the city’s single-subject ordinance, which restricts proposed changes in the city charter to a single topic, would permit all changes to be made under a single initiative.

The complete draft of the charter can be found at springsaccountabilitynow.org.

Here’s a synopsis:

  • An elected mayor becomes the chief executive of the city replacing the city manager
  • The mayor is no longer a member of the city council, an at-large councilmember is elected to replace the mayor and council remains at nine members
  • Council becomes the legislative branch of the City with checks and balances; elects a President of Council.
  • Mayor is elected by majority with runoff election of top two, if required mayor takes office six weeks following the April election
  • Appointments of auditor, clerk, treasurer, Memorial Hospital board and CEO of Colorado Springs Utilities remain with council
  • Mayor appoints and council approves the city attorney, CFO, fire chief and police chief by simple majority
  • Mayor retains appointments of department heads and must appoint a chief of staff
  • Succession in case of incapacity of the mayor is the president of council until the next special or general election
  • Council is required to adopt by ordinance proper personnel, procurement and contracting procedures for those operations of the city
  • Mayor may veto ordinances with the exception of quasi-judicial (land use) and other specified ordinances
  • Council may override veto with a two-thirds vote
  • Mayor is responsible for submittal of budget by early October, council approves a budget, Mayor has line item veto and Council may override with two-thirds vote
  • Mayor becomes a non-voting, ex officio member of the utilities board
  • Mayor will be paid a salary that is 110 percent of El Paso County Commissioners’ salary
  • Mayor to be full time and not have any other employment
  • Form of government is instituted upon the mayor assuming authority

6 Responses to ‘Strong mayor’ group releases proposed city charter

  1. Colorado Springs can not finally attract an honest Mayor with $100,000. This ” Strong Mayor Group” is a construction, growth profit oriented special interest self endulgent get in the pocket of taxpayer Group.
    Say NO

    dan solsbery
    April 28, 2010 at 5:27 pm

  2. Dan….. so are you suggesting that we stay with the current form of government? Seems like the scenario you just described is what our poor city has experienced the past four years! Keep in mind, a crappy job attracts crappy candidates. I don’t think that the proposed salary will be the main motivator for us to find a good mayor. I believe that this is an effort to modify the mayoral position in hopes to create accountability and strong leadership…. two characteristics that our city government has been desperately lacking for many years! Your opinion seems to be extremely short sighted if you think that a $100K will motivate someone to accept complete accountability and management for Colorado Springs. Keep in mind, Penny Culbreth-Graft got paid double and even that wasn’t enough!

    Justin Burns
    April 29, 2010 at 8:51 am

  3. I remain highly suspicious of the motives with those who are pushing for the strong mayor agenda. I do not see anything in the proposed amended City Charter and this summary list that convinces me a strong mayor would automatically become more “accountable,” which is what I thought it was all about.

    April 29, 2010 at 9:54 am

  4. We are fooling ourselves if we think the $6000/year council members are not going to start advocating for higher salaries and their own staff to review the mayor’s proposals. Plus, they are going to desire stepping up their constituent services.

    This proposal assumes City Councils will be lock step with the Mayor’s agenda.

    If we are going to do this, the City Council needs to be an effective check with well compensated individuals who are not necessarily political toadies of the strong mayor.

    Plus, I think we delude ourselves if we think this form of government creates leadership and accountability. It just creates a person that we can blame for everything we don’t like.

    April 29, 2010 at 11:17 am

  5. Being someone who has a vested interest in the outcome of this initiatve, I’d like a clearer understanding of just exactly what appears to be broken with our current system. Is there a general perception that the current mayor is doing a poor job? If so, vote him out (and yes I know he is term limited). We do that with elected officials all the time and it doesnt require a change in the form of governance. Are we doing this to align ourselves with the 50% of who have mayor-council forms of government? If so, that doesn’t seem like a compelling reason. It’s hard to say we have outgrown the manager-council form of government when cities like Phoenix still use it. I would also like to understand the rationale of combining a part time position with a full time position and cutting the combined salaries by over 50%. Is the current city manager’s position grossly overpaid? I have no position on this initiative at this time, but would like to understand the compelling reasons to make this change.

    Buddy Gilmore
    Candidate for C.S. Mayor 2011

    Buddy Gilmore
    April 29, 2010 at 12:31 pm

  6. Justin, I completely agree with you. Colorado Springs is no longer a “one-horse” town and what we have in place now is definitely not working…period!

    Dan, you seem to represent those people in our community – CAVE people – Citizens Against Virtually Everything. I am so done with people who oppose changes in our community – we need positive change (Sorry Doug, that doesn’t include you) and we need change that will move us forward. This is a great city and we need a Mayor who cares about our city and can dedicate their time fully to our community.

    As mentioned in the other weekly publication:: “A strong-mayor system will allow voters to elect a visionary, accountable leader who can decisively make the right decisions for our government, citizens and city employees. An opportunity to elect a leader who is accountable to you!”

    April 29, 2010 at 12:36 pm