Danville Decides City Leadership Issue Nov. 4th

DANVILLE — Most people in the Boyle County seat would agree that running a city with a $28 million budget and 135 employees is a full-time job. But whose job? The city manager's or the mayor's?

That's the question to be decided Nov. 4, when Danville votes on whether to change its form of government, reports the Lexington Herald-Leader in its sunday edition.

For nearly 40 years, the day-to-day administration of the city has been in the hands of a city manager who answers to a board of commissioners — whose members include the mayor. But proponents of change say the city of 16,000 needs to change its form of government so that the mayor is the "go-to person" who sets direction and executes policy.

Steven Becker, a Danville caterer who was among those who petitioned to get the issue on the ballot, said, "It's hard to know who is in charge" under the current city manager form of government, the Herald-Leader reports.

Over the past year, three of the four city commissioners have had a series of disputes with Mayor Hugh Coomer that resulted in an ethics investigation and hearing into his actions. The ethics board dismissed seven counts but determined that Coomer went beyond his legal authority on three others.

Against this backdrop, Becker said, it's hard to know who leads the city.

"People want to know 'Who is the person in charge?'" Becker said. "That doesn't mean the city manager can't be that person, but I think those who have the title of mayor are looked upon as the person being in charge. There is so much confusion and discord on the commission, and there is frustration," Becker told the Herald-Leader.

But Clarence Wyatt, a Centre College history professor, said discord can happen in any form of government, and he contends that there is no need to change.

While acknowledging that "representative government is messy sometimes," Wyatt said the city manager-commission form of government allows elected officials to concentrate on broader policy issues, and leaves the day-to-day administration to a professional manager, reports the Lexington Herald-Leader.

Copyright - The Lexington Herald-Leader

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