North Pole sticks with mayor government

Posted: Wednesday, August 04, 2010

NORTH POLE - The city of North Pole is going to keep its mayor.

A resolution calling for a public vote on a possible switch to a city manager form of government died for lack of City Council support Monday.

Council members said putting the question on the October ballot left too little time for community debate on the issue.

"I think this is being pushed just a little too fast," resident Bob Carr said.

The measure was introduced by former Councilman Willy Cork last month and tabled pending a report from the city finance and audit committee.

Committee chairwoman Dianna Lindhag said shifting the city's day-to-day management from the mayor to a manager would maintain the ceremonial responsibilities of an elected mayor but reduce the mayor's salary and responsibilities so a city manager could run city hall.

She said a manager could offer more stability to the municipality, could be drawn from a larger geographic area than the four square miles of North Pole and could develop and implement long-term goals for the city.

But Lindhag said the drawbacks included a potentially higher salary for the manager than the $69,000 earned by the mayor. A manager also might ask for an administrative assistant, further draining city coffers.

Fire Chief Buddy Lane said he wouldn't support the measure unless there was an implementation plan he could review.

Former Councilman Thomas McGhee said he is happy with the current city leadership.

"The job is getting done," McGhee said. "I feel protected in my home. I am proud of my city."

Mayor Doug Isaacson had recused himself from the discussion but said previously in an interview that he was concerned about the increased costs of going to a manager form of government.

Kenai, Palmer, Kodiak, Nome, Juneau, Homer and Seward all have city managers. The city of Fairbanks had a city manager but switched to a strong mayor form of government in the 1990s.

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