Lander researching city administrator form of government; presentation planned for June

    Lander city staff are learning more about the city administrator form of government this year, with plans to present their research to the Lander City Council in June.

    Assistant mayor RaJean Strube Fossen broached the topic during a strategic planning meeting last month, asking for permission to start the research project.


    City administrators are appointed by local elected officials to provide “another layer of administration” and “consistency between elections,” Strube Fossen explained last month.


    For example, she pointed out that the council has “put a lot of work” into forming a municipal strategic plan over the past several years – but all of that progress “could be lost in one election” if a new mayor “came in and cleaned house.”

    “(We’re) trying to protect our interests as a city,” she said.

    Public works director Lance Hopkin added that city administrators are specifically trained to perform their duties and have “knowledge” that incoming mayors may not.

    “I don’t think we’re saying that Lander has a problem right now,” Hopkin said. “But if you want to keep up, if you’re implementing new things and you’re investing in them and you want them to continue, (a city administrator) may be something you want to consider… versus somebody else new trying to come in and catch up to all that.”


    Council response

    The council agreed to let staff research the option, but the elected officials didn’t necessarily think it would be a good idea to pursue a city administrator form of government in Lander.

    “I like what we have, (and) I think it’s been working,” Councilmember Dan Hahn said. “We haven’t had a problem.”

    A city administrator may “take (the) council out of the loop” in some areas of municipal government that new elected officials might want to modify, Hahn continued, but “there should always be options (and) flexibility” because “there’s so many things that change, even year-to-year.”


    Councilmember Melinda Cox said Lander currently employs multiple people who do the tasks of a city administrator, even though it’s “not in their formal duties.”

    “Everybody in here has multiple jobs,” Mayor Monte Richardson agreed.

    “That’s the way it works,” Hahn said, calling it a “plus” to keep city administration “a little loose.”


    “Personally, I would rather have a multitude of people running (the city) instead of somebody at the pulpit,” he said. “You could have a loose cannon there. (But) if you have two or three people running the city … there’s more thought process.”

    Councilmember Julia Stuble asked staff to reach out to local residents to gather feedback about the idea, and Councilmember Missy White asked staff to contact Riverton’s elected officials to find out what they like and don’t like about having a city administrator.

    White also referred to state statute that limits mayor salaries to $24,000 per year in Wyoming.

    City administrators, by contrast, typically earn more than $100,000 per year, Cox said.

    “That would come out of the city budget,” Hahn said.


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