Altus officials wanting to change the city's form of government - KSWO 7News | Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Altus officials wanting to change the city's form of government

ALTUS, Okla_The Altus City Council wants to implement a new form of government, but it will ultimately be up to the city's voters to decide. The city council voted Monday night to put the proposal on the ballot next April.

Currently, the city runs under an aldermanic form of government which gives most of the control to the mayor, balanced by a city council. The proposal would change it to a charter-based system.

"I think it would be easier to change those things within the charter for effective governing as opposed to change the form of government every time we need to look at a change," Mayor David Webb said.

At the council meeting, Councilman Jack Smiley pushed hard for the change, saying the day-to-day operations of the city should not be managed by the council.

"Folks this is a $50 million entity, you don't need eight people involved in the day to day operations of the city. How absurd is that, that we are supposed to be involved in the activities more so than in a charter form of government."

Mayor Webb said under the charter government, a city manager or administrator will assist in handling the city's daily needs. Even though the city already has a city administrator, the responsibilities are not fully there, yet.

"It is not taken into consideration under our aldermanic form of government. We have adapted our situation to include a city administrator to handle a lot of those professional duties, but as far as authorities, no authority is granted that position under the statue."

Under the charter government, most of the operational duties would be taken away from the mayor.

"Which I think is good, it would return the mayor to more of the figure head for the city, for special events, to be the spokesperson, and communications at the state level that sort of thing."

A charter form government was proposed years ago in Altus, but never gained enough support.

"The reason it was voted down was because people did not want to get away from an elected police chief, treasurer, road street commissioner," Smiley said.

"Part of it was lack of information, part of it was trying to do too much too soon," Webb said.

Mayor Webb remains optimistic this time citizens will vote for the change.

"The desire is not to make rapid change, but take what we have, take what we like and mold that into a charter. We want to listen to what the citizens have to say about this. We want to know what's important."

If voters approve the change next spring, a board of free holders will be responsible for determining what goes in the charter.

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