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OUR VIEW: City should add administrator to government

A great manager can save an organization money. Of that, we have no doubt. Even an average manager can find some savings and establish practices that are good for business.

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The point is that anytime people with adequate training really put their mind to it, good practices and better ideas can materialize. Sometimes, it just takes a new approach and a different perspective.

That’s why we think the Mitchell City Council should give its approval to hiring a city administrator, a proposed new position that would oversee the city’s department heads on a day-to-day basis. Some council members are in favor of the idea, and judging from discussions at recent council meetings, we predict the proposal could pass.

Remember: This is a different idea than the one voters turned down in 2011. Back then, the idea was to hire a city manager, who would essentially be the CEO of the city and greatly diminish the role of mayor. The new proposal would create the position of city administrator, who would serve more as an aide to the mayor.

We agree with Roger Musick, a local businessman who spoke to the council during a recent meeting. He said the city has tried its current system for more than a century, and that it’s “time for a change.” Musick and retired banker LaMoine Torgerson both said property taxes are too high in Mitchell, and an administrator could help find ways to minimize property tax increases.

This isn’t a unique idea. Twenty cities in South Dakota already have a city administrator.

In 2011, we were firm backers of the plan to change how the city is managed. We believe that over time, Mitchell has been blessed to have some good mayors, but has also had some mayors who don’t necessarily understand or have training in how to manage a large and complex organization like city government, which has 177 full-time employees and a budget of nearly $36 million.

We were surprised the proposal lost in 2011, especially considering it had such widespread support among the business community, former mayors and council members.

This new plan is the way to go.