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Public vote still possible for Mitchell city administrator

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Public vote still possible for Mitchell city administrator
Mitchell South Dakota 120 South Lawler 57301

An initial vote on an ordinance that would allow the mayor to appoint a city administrator is on the Mitchell City Council's agenda tonight.

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The ordinance, if approved by the council, could be referred to a public vote.

In December, the council approved a proposal to add to the city's government a city administrator, who would oversee the city's department heads on a day-to-day basis and essentially act as an aide to the mayor. At the time, the council voted to hire a city administrator the same way it hires any other city employee, which meant the issue was unable to be referred to a public vote.

Mayor Ken Tracy, in an interview Sunday with The Daily Republic, said after weeks of trying to put together a job description that would follow the council's wishes, he has determined the city has two choices -- the city administrator could be appointed by and serve at the pleasure of the mayor, or be hired in the same manner as any other city employee.

Tracy said he did not intend to circumvent the council's earlier decision by proposing the ordinance, but rather intended to present the council with both options.

"I thought I would put it on the agenda and see what they want to do," he said.

Voters overwhelmingly rejected a proposal to add a city manager -- a different position than a city administrator -- to the city's government in 2011. Unlike city managers, city administrators are not the chief executives of the cities they serve, and instead are accountable to the mayor.

If the council votes in favor of the ordinance tonight on first reading, it must go to a second reading at the council's next meeting, scheduled for April 21. The vote on the second reading is the final vote.

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