Council member Allen views November vote on new ordinance as one of Providence’s biggest issues

PROVIDENCE – Kirk Allen said the two biggest issues he has seen as a member of the Providence City Council is the purchase of the new city building and the possible city manager ordinance.

One of those issues is now out of his control.

After a petition to change the city’s form of government gained 500 needed signatures, the issue went to the council, but it never went to vote. Because of that, the issue will go to a referendum vote in November. Providence voters will have the option to take the city’s administrative authority from the mayor and give it to a hired professional, or they can vote against it and keep things the way they are.

Allen said he is happy to let the citizens decide.

“We really feel if we don’t do it that way there will always be those people that say, ‘That wasn’t what we wanted,'” he said. “Let them decide. Some people say there is just a small portion of the city that want a city manager, but that the rest of the citizens are going to stay with the mayoral system.”

The push for a city manager started in February when a <a href=”” target=”_blank”>recently-conducted personnel study</a> was presented to the council. The committee that conducted the study – which was made up of council members Jeff Baldwin, John Drew and former council member Ralph Call – suggested that having a city manager that takes care of all civic duties could add consistency to its leadership instead of being ran by a mayor that may not have the proper background or the necessary time to fulfill his or her responsibilities.

Shortly after, Providence resident Chad Checketts began circulating the petition that eventually put the issue on a ballot. During an <a href=”” target=”_blank”>April public hearing</a>, Checketts voiced his opinion.

He said the mayor has both administrative and legislative power in the current form of government. He said switching to a city manager form of government would split those powers, giving administrative powers – such as hiring city employees – to the manager.

“When we have one person that is in charge and calls the shots, we usually refer to that as a dictatorship,” he said. “It gets to be where one person’s personal agenda could lead an entire city which I believe is much less desirable than a city where a quorum of like-minded people make the decisions, and that’s how it operates with a city manager.”

Allen doesn’t see the need for change. He said not every mayor has been perfect, but the city’s progress has always moved forward.

“I think we need to keep the mayoral form of government,” he said. “I think it has served Providence so well. These are not full-time men and women. These are people who have carved time out of a busy life schedule, who dedicate service to the city.

“If we believe that the city of Providence is best served by well-meaning ladies and gentlemen who are willing to dedicate their service to the service of their city and want to do what’s right because they feel a commitment to this community then that’s a good strong mayoral system. It’s worked well.”

Free News Delivery by Email

Would you like to have the day's news stories delivered right to your inbox every evening? Enter your email below to start!