Change the city structure

Scott Louser, Minot

Minot is both a growing and recovering community, due to the energy impacts as well as the flood of 2011. The decision of Mayor Curt Zimbelman to not run for another term comes as no surprise but few probably understand the role of mayor in our city governing structure. In most communities, the mayor is considered the executive and a voting member in the city commission. Under our current structure, Minot’s mayoral salary is $9,000 per year, presumably requiring the mayor to have a full-time job to support his or her family.

I suspect the majority of our citizens regard the mayor as the leader of our city and more than likely, those from outside Minot view the position the same. Considering issues in Minot ranging from transportation to flood protection, property taxes to housing, police protection to tourism, recreation to long-range planning and everything in between, how much can we expect of a part-time leader?

Fargo, West Fargo, Bismarck, Mandan, Dickinson, Williston, Jamestown and Devils Lake all have five city commissioners. Grand Forks and Watford City have seven city commissioners. Including the mayor, the Minot City Council has 15 members. While there may not be a model government that everyone can agree upon, having three times as many city council members as a city three times as large as ours (Fargo) makes little sense.

It’s time to discuss a change to our governing structure in Minot. It’s time to consider the mayor as the full-time chief executive in our city with a reduced council or commission. Under such a structure, the elected mayor would be the president of the commission and hired or appointed department officers would be accountable to the commission. The above proposal is not an indictment of any individuals; it’s a focus on an outdated structure. Zimbelman far exceeded his duties in the capacity for which he was elected and for his service, we should be grateful. Let’s provide every opportunity for our future leadership to succeed by both growing and recovering the city we call home.