BY ASHLEY D. THOMAS
The power of the Daytona Beach city manager has been the topic of much discussion in re- cent years and is at the forefront of considerations by the Daytona Beach Charter Review Commission (CRC).
“The current structure gives, in my opinion, all the power to a person who’s not an elected official,” Dr. Willie Kimmons, vice chair of the CRC said to the board on Feb. 4 at City Hall. “The peo- ple that elect people, I think that is where the power should be.”
The City Commission hired Jim Chisholm as city manager in August 2004. As city manager, he is responsible for implementing the policy of the commis- sion, preparing the city’s annual budget and ensuring the city operates in a fiscally responsible manner.
As the city’s chief executive of- ficer, he is responsible for the day-to-day management of all operations of city government.
Mayoral form sought
Kimmons was not the only one to voice an opinion of the role of the city manager.
In an interview with the Day- tona Times Hemis Ivey also voiced concerns. “As past chair- man of the Midtown Redevelopment Board, I strongly advocate for change in the charter review,” Ivey related.
“It is important that we go to a mayoral form of government where we can hold our commissioners and our mayor accountable and we won’t be stuck with them on a contractual obligation. We (voters) can change them every four years vs. the city manag- er form of government.”
Kimmons noted that the elected officials – the mayor and city commissioners – should be responsible for the citizens.
“But if you look at the current day-to-day structure that we have in place, the city manager runs the day-to-day operation of the city, who is not an elected of- ficial, who is supposed to report through the city commission and the mayor and that can be a tremendous, tremendous morale problem when you look at the lines of demarcation and span of control, it makes it very difficult,’’ Kimmons added.
Favoritism and nepotism?
The current city manager is an employee of the city and as such cannot be simply voted out through the electoral process. If he were to be relinquished of his duties, the commissioners would have to vote him out.
Ivey explained that if the position was modified, commissioners could be the head over different departments, which he believes can stop “the favoritism and nepotism’’ in hiring.
“Right now you have people in positions at City Hall that only have high school diplomas that are over people with master’s degrees and that is not right and it’s not fair,” Ivey said.
What is the charter?
Daytona Beach’s charter, the governing document that outlines how the city operates, is required to be reviewed every 10 years by a committee made up of residents. City commissioners appointed members and alternates to serve on the Charter Review Commission (CRC) in January.
The commission is tasked with examining the city’s existing charter and to make recommendations for changes, additions or deletions. Any recommended changes will be presented to the Daytona Beach City Commission for authorization on June 18 and two public hearings will be established for public input.
Upon approval, a referendum is held where amendments are presented to the electorate for final adoption.
Finally, the amendments will be placed on the ballot at the next general election on Nov. 4.
“I just hope that the City Commission adapts and adopts some of the changes being recommended from the Charter Review Commission,” Ivey concluded.
Additional changes discussed
Former Mayor Glenn Ritchey, who is serving as chairman of the seven-member CRC, said he wants to review charter language that’s become obsolete such as references to eminent domain powers that are now illegal and beach access that’s now controlled by the county.
Kimmons also asked the board to consider changing the number of zones on the city commission and the balance of power at City Hall.
“I often wonder if we need six zones or do we need four zones. We are growing as a city,” he pondered.
“If you look at Zones 1-4, there is a different makeup in 5 and 6,” Kimmons told the board. “I own houses in five and six. I want to make sure we expand the resources. The resources look like they are going in Zones 1,2,3 and 4.”
“As Mayor Derrick Henry says, ‘We are one city and one vision,’” Kimmons told the Daytona Times. “Let’s get a balance of power and wealth.”
Other issues raised during the Feb. 4 meeting included:
• Power of the mayor and the commission.
• Whether the city manager needs to reside in the city.
• Financial reporting of the city manager to the commission.
• Financial disclosure of elections.
• Sharing of agenda powers between the city manager and the commission.
• A map of how city resources are spent among city facilities in a yearly published document, known as a fair-share.
• A review of planning and advisory boards.
• Organizational structure of the city government.
The public’s involvement is encouraged. The next meeting of the CRC will be held Feb. 18 from 6 p.m. – 7 p.m. at City Hall in the Commission Chambers, 301 S. Ridgewood Ave.