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Time For a New
Form of Government!

by David Stanowski
31 August 2009


The City-Manager Form of Government is the worst possible way to run a city, because the head of government, the Chief Executive Officer, with all of the power, responsibility, and authority; the person who runs day-to-day operations, is an unelected bureaucrat. The city manager NEVER answers directly to the voters. We don’t let state legislatures appoint our governors, and we don’t let Congress appoint the President, so why do we allow city councils to appoint city CEOs, in some cities?

The theory is that council members, who do answer directly to the voters, will provide effective oversight of the city manager. Unfortunately, the reason why the theory does not work in our city is the reality that the top 24 people on the City staff, who are not subject to term limits, are being paid $2 million per year, plus benefits, to push their agenda, while the seven part-time Council Members, who are subject to term limits, are paid nothing. The illusion that Council can set the agenda desired by the voters, and provide the proper oversight on this staff, with this mismatch of power and resources, would be amusing if the results were not so painful to the City.


Here are some of the results during the current City Manager’s first ten years in office (1997-2007):

The number of total jobs declined 18%, from 30,108 to 24,601, while the State added 16% more jobs.

In 2007, the Median Household Income in Galveston was $35,610; 25% less than the $47,548 for the State of Texas.
 
The population of the State of Texas grew 23.0% as the City suffered a population decline of 5.4%.

However, as the population of the City was declining 5.4%, the number of City employees increased 16.7%! For the ratio of City employees to City residents to be the same in 2007 as it was in 1997; the number of City employees should have been reduced 23.4%!

Year Population City
Employees
Employees per
1,000 Residents
% Increase
Since 1997
1997 60,167 694 11.53
2007 56,940 810 14.23 +23.4%
2009 45,000 755 16.78 +45.5%
Source Galveston 1997: Census Bureau
Source Galveston 2007: Census Bureau
Source Galveston 2009: City of Galveston
Source City Employees: City of Galveston

Between August 2002 and August 2008, the average civilian employee received a 20.5% increase in compensation while members of the City staff enjoyed much bigger raises; some as high as 68-75%!!

The City Manager almost doubled his salary from $70,000, to $139,050 even though his last performance review was on 14 March 2003!


Who is responsible for this performance? In this system; no one!

By the time the federal aid ends for Hurricane Ike, or possibly even before that, the City of Galveston will probably be facing the worst financial crisis in its history. The current City government is simply not equipped to deal with it, so some fundamental changes must be made, before it’s too late!

It is time to switch to the Mayoral Form of Government, where the Mayor and Council Members are paid, and where the Mayor is the CEO of the City. In this way, the CEO of the City will answer directly to the voters.





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