MADISON, Ala. (WHNT) – The City of Madison is considering making the switch to a council-manager form of government, and a local organization met with citizens to talk about the potential system on Thursday.
Madison Forward is a citizens group, and organization leaders said, as the city continues to grow, they see an opportunity to make the Madison government more efficient. The group is proposing a special election to let Madison citizens choose whether to make the change.
“If you can hire a professional to manage some of the day-to-day duties of the city, your city can operate more efficiently, with more transparency,” said Madison Forward representative Terri Johnson.
The council-manager system would take some of the daily operational responsibilities off of the mayor’s shoulders. Instead, a city manager would be brought in to handle most administrative duties. The mayor would be made the president and a voting member of the city council.
Johnson said the desire for change is not based on current Madison leadership, but instead, she said it is a way to help city development moving forward.
“It frees the mayor up to focus on vision and strategic planning,” Johnson said. “It gets the mayor out where he can talk to members of the public and find out what the residents want to do.”
According to Madison Forward, there are several benefits to a council-manager system including:
- the city would be run more like a business
- decision-making would be political and more efficient
- continuity when mayoral administrations change
- city managers often have administrative experience and related degrees
Most cities, like Madison, with populations over 50,000 people implement a council-manager style of government.
“We wanted to get the information out there to the citizens, and kick off our petition drive to give our citizens the opportunity to decide whether they would like to put this question to the ballot,” Johnson said.
The decision to change the current system can only be put to vote in a special election after the city receives the signatures of 900 residents. First, those signatures will be verified by a probate judge. Then, the mayor will call for a special election where citizens can vote.
Johnson said she hopes the city will hold a special election this fall. If that election takes place and the proposal passes, the new system would not go into effect until 2025.
Madison Forward will hold another community meeting at noon at the Madison Public Library on July 11.