Marysville News

City transition process off to a tense start

New form of government starts in 2016


The Marysville Ad Hoc Transition Committee met for the first time May 22 to discuss how the city will make the transition to a new form of government in 2016, and disagreements have already arisen.

Voters approved a city charter amendment in November changing from the mayor-director-council model to a council-manager setup.

City Council President Nevin Taylor appointed council Vice President J.R. Rausch, members Tracy Richardson and Henk Berbee, Mayor John Gore, Human Resources Director Brian Dostanko and Finance Director Jenny Chavarria to the committee.

The meeting became tense at times as Rausch, the committee chairman, and Gore periodically disagreed on various issues related to accountability, according to minutes from the session.

One of the points of contention was the issue of checks and balances in the new form of government.

Rausch said he wants to avoid having seven council members micromanaging city actions, but realizes council must have authority if something in the administration needs to be corrected.

"We want to be able to hire a good city manager and give them the leeway to run the city, but we do need to have the necessary checks and balances in place. I don't want any more than that or any less than that," Rausch said in a May 29 interview.

At the meeting, Rausch suggested beefing up council committee rules for oversight purposes. Gore disagreed, saying the new government structure should reduce bureaucracy, not increase it.

He suggested the city manager would be similar to a CEO and council would remain the legislative branch.

Gore said he believes whoever is hired as the city manager needs to deal with one designated point person.

"John and I have a difference of opinion currently, but because this was the first meeting, I'm actually very excited about where we are," Rausch said May 29.

He pointed out that Gore has been thinking about this form of government for 10 years, while others on the committee have just gotten their feet wet.

"So he's had a long time to think about what he thinks this government should look like," Rausch said.

"I feel that some council members are making the transition more complicated than it needs to be," Gore wrote in an email.

Rausch said at the meeting the conflict is a good sign that shows the committee is engaging in healthy debate and vetting various ideas.

Rausch and Gore agreed the goal of the process is to make sure one rogue council member can't destroy what a good city manager is doing and, likewise, that there is accountability for and a process to remove a rogue city manager.

Ad hoc committee members will now seek information from other cities that have changed their forms of government and will compile information about the mayor's schedule so they know what demands will be placed on the council president after the switch.

The committee's next meeting will be at 4 p.m. June 26 in council chambers at Marysville City Hall, 209 S. Main St.