LONE TREE — In April, first-term Lone Tree Mayor Jon Green made a proposal not often seen by elected officials.
Green suggested to his fellow City Council members that Lone Tree change its government system from mayor-council to city manager-council. Green, who works full time in information technology and devotes an additional 10 to 35 hours a week to his mayoral duties, reasoned that Lone Tree would benefit from a city manager with a background in public administration who could devote more time to improving the community.
Green estimated it would cost roughly $150,000 to cover the salary and benefits for a city manager, which would be covered by a property tax increase of about $20 a month for most Lone Tree residents. If his proposal were accepted, Green would be Lone Tree’s last mayor.
WHAT’S HAPPENED SINCE
One way or another, Green will not be Lone Tree’s mayor in 2020.
Green told The Gazette this month that he does not plan to seek another term. His reasoning goes back to why he proposed eliminating the mayor position in the first place.
“It just takes a hell of a lot of time,” he said of his mayoral duties. “When you’re working 50 hours a week in your regular job, it just doesn’t leave enough time for me to do a good enough job.”
Green said he’s still working to improve Lone Tree in the months he has left as mayor. In the last few weeks, the Lone Tree City Council had a joint meeting with the Johnson County Board of Supervisors and the Lone Tree Community School board of trustees, the first time those three entities have met together, he said.
Next month, the Iowa Women’s Foundation will meet with the City Council to discuss increasing the availability of affordable, high-quality child care in the community.
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And, Green hasn’t given up on his city manager proposal. Green said while some community members are in favor of maintaining the status quo, the “lion’s share” of people he’s spoken with support the city manager idea.
The issue is cost.
“It all comes down to money,” he said. “I don’t think anybody would say, ‘I don’t want to do this because I have ideological objections to it.’ It all comes down to money. It’s a big ask. So, I’m just trying to do the best I can to convince folks that this is an investment in the community’s future.”
Green said he has not yet taken the proposal to the council for a vote. He said state law dictates that if the vote fails, it cannot be reconsidered for two years.
“It’s not something I would ask for a vote on unless I was reasonably confident it’s going to succeed,” he said. “I don’t know if we’re going to get there by the end of the year. Frankly, I think it’s unlikely.”
Green said the council did appropriate some money to send the city clerk to Kirkwood Community College to take grant writing classes.
“At some point, you have to invest in the community to make sure the community continues to be viable,” he said. “At the end of the day, everything costs money.”
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