City Senior Staff employment practices discussed at Aug. 3 Riverton Council meeting

(Riverton, WY) – The Riverton City Council convened on Tuesday, August 3rd, for a regular meeting at the City Hall Council Chambers.

Taking up a considerable portion of the evening, was discussion of item 14 on the agenda, concerning “Ordinance No. 21-015: Council Concurrence of Senior Staff Employment Practices.”

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While not changing the form of government like the proposed ‘Strong Mayor’ discussion that failed to pass at the July 6th Council meeting, this ordinance would give the hiring power of the top 5 City Department Head positions – City Administrator, City Clerk, Police Chief, City Attorney, and Public Works Director – to a “Governing Body.”

This Governing Body would consist of the electorate voted upon Mayor and Council, who would then need a majority vote to consent to any hiring.

Before the official Public Hearing on the ordinance began, 50 year Riverton resident Mary Ellen Christensen used the Citizen’s Comment section of the evening to voice her concerns on the matter.

County 10 photo.

“My main concern, is why is it even changing?” Christensen asked, then expressing worry about the hiring of City positions being politicized. She also stated she feels the City Administrator position, the Department Head in charge of the hiring process, is sufficient as is, going on to say current City Administrator Tony Tolstedt is “the perfect intermediary.”

Later in the meeting when the floor opened for the Public Hearing on the ordinance, Riverton resident Bethany Baldes addressed the crowd to applaud Mayor Richard Gard, Tolstedt, and the Council for their response to her flooding issues, and to show her support of the Ordinance.

County 10 photo.

“We have a legislative body here that’s willing to work through the issues and come up with solutions,” Baldes stated before adding that she hopes the Governing Body will be able to continue to “take the personal out of this.”

She also commented that she was glad that the ordinance was “brought back for a third reading.”

When the third public commenter of the evening, Josephine Gilpatrick, also in support of the Ordinance, addressed the crowd, she asked for clarity about what “consent” meant for the Governing Body. She also thanked the Council for “whoever re-wrote this Ordinance.”

County 10 photo.

At this point, Ward 1 Council Member Kyle Larson called a point of order to clarify to everyone in attendance that this Ordinance was not a re-writing of the Strong Mayor proposed ordinance, which was shelved from further conversation.

“This is an entirely different piece of work,” Larson stated.

“We’re not changing the form of government,” Ward 1 Council Member Dean Peranteaux further clarified. “This is just for the hiring process for these 5 positions, which will be decided by the Governing Body.”

Mayor Gard also answered Gilpatrick’s question about what “consent” means for the hiring process, informing of the majority vote needed by the Governing Body.

After the Public Hearing was over, the Council unanimously decided to move the ordinance forward to the next reading.

The second readings of Ordinance No.’s 21-011, 21-012, 21-013, concerning Animal Cruelty, Control, and Ownership, were also discussed, and each will move on to a third reading.

The third and final reading of “Ordinance No. 21-009: Light Manufacturing, Commercial Zoned Property,” also occurred, and was passed unanimously.

Bids were also awarded to purchase a Police SUV, an airport Work Truck, two 55 Series Cab & Chassis setups, and a Collection & Distribution/Sanitation Truck.

The meeting can be viewed in its entirety here.

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