Letters to the Editor

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TACOMA: Most AAA-rated cities are council-manager

Letter by Andrew E. Neiditz, Lakewood on May 11, 2012 at 12:06 pm with 5 Comments »
May 11, 2012 1:27 pm

A letter writer (TNT, 5-11) refers to “unelected bureaucrats” running Tacoma and the need for the city to catch up to “modern government.”

As an officer in the International City Management Association and a past president of the Washington City Managers, I would like to report that all but one of the 17 cities incorporated in Washington since 1970 opted for the council-manager form. During that same time period, 17 cities changed from mayor-council to council-manager, and eight cities changed from council-manager to mayor-council.

There are currently 52 council-manager cities in this state, containing 42 percent of the state’s incorporated population (more than 49 percent without Seattle). Nationally, there are 3,661 council-manager cities.

Today, nearly two-thirds of Moody’s AAA bond-rated cities are run by professional managers. The form of government will be celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2013.

(Neiditz is the Lakewood city manager.)

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Leave a comment Comments → 5
  1. Puyallup has a AAA rating and a City Manager-Council System.

    However, its budget profile is sitting on a time bomb as a result of incompetence at City Hall of its naive and unqualified staff, (not an economist or MBA in the entire place) and a council who cannot understand budgets and business. Next year’s budget will have probably a $15M shortfall. Small by comparison to Tacoma, but larger if you pro rate it.

    Dont worry though, Puyallup Council will shove a large tax increase down taxpayers throats to save their own embarrassment and most important, preserve City Hall jobs for the constantly inept.

    I prefer Sumner’s system with the “Strong Mayor” system where he acts as a city manager and can be booted out by the voters. Not constantly coddled by a corrupt set of council members as in Puyallup.

  2. BigSwingingRichard says:

    I wonder about the hybrid system of local government we have in Tacoma. We have a strong city manager AND we have a mayor city council member who makes 90k a year. Why is this?

    This system has not resulted in greater oversight or better fiscal management. I would content it has made things worse, and the financial mismanagement of the city budget is proof of this.

  3. Pecksbadboy says:

    Most Council/Manger cities have candidates who have a IQ above 75 and are not running for the job just to see what they can get out of it for themselves.

  4. ThomasSkidmore says:

    This is like having the Madam of a House of Ill Repute rate the other houses. “Moody’s AAA” rating…this is the same bunch that did not see the Great Recession coming isn’t it.

    He misses the point of the letter he is attacking – the writer used a 200,000 population criteria and I doubt most of the new cities in Washington have that population – the writer did not use the term “modern” but rather indicated Tacoma needed a “democratic” gov’t and not one run by unelected bureaucrats.

    The Lakewood City Manager’s letter actually just gives another indication of why Tacoma needs to seriously change its form of gov’t…he is just part of a system that is more interested in keeping itself in business than actually serving the people of a city.

  5. MedicineMan says:

    I guess that IQ88 prefers the Mayor Kathy Turner era that handed the current council an $80M debt that will last until 2024 before it is paid off. The council hires the city manager and they get what they seek just as the public “hires” a hard mayor and in turn they reap what they sow.

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