Government

Lone Tree mayor proposes eliminating his job in favor of city manager

Lone Tree mayor Jon Green poses for a picture before participating in a community euchre game night at the American Legion hall in Lone Tree on Wednesday, March 6, 2019. (Photo by KC McGinnis for The Gazette)
Lone Tree mayor Jon Green poses for a picture before participating in a community euchre game night at the American Legion hall in Lone Tree on Wednesday, March 6, 2019. (Photo by KC McGinnis for The Gazette)

LONE TREE — In any given week, Lone Tree Mayor Jon Green dedicates 10 to 35 hours of his time to his responsibilities to the city.

It’s not enough, he said.

“I’m putting a lot into it,” the 36-year-old said. “I can honestly tell you I’m not doing enough.”

To be fair, Green thinks it would be difficult for anyone to do enough as mayor of Lone Tree, unless that person had a background in city administration and could devote considerably more time to the community.

“I’m not a grant writer,” said Green, who has a full-time job in information technology. “I’m not an emergency management person. I don’t have a background in human resources. I don’t have a background in budgeting. I feel like I’m doing a lot of important work, but there is a particular and peculiar skill set — in terms of running the city — that I think Lone Tree and our residents deserve.”

With that in mind, the first-term mayor is proposing he become Lone Tree’s last mayor. In an April 23 letter to the City Council, Green proposed that Lone Tree change its government system from mayor-council to council-city manager.

“I’ve come to the conclusion that even with me devoting an awful lot of time and personal resources to the office, Lone Tree will be better served by someone who can devote 40 hours a week to the job.”

Under Green’s ideal timeline, the council would discuss his proposal at its May meeting and, if his fellow council members are receptive to the idea, have the city attorney draft an ordinance. That ordinance would have first, second and final readings during the council’s June, July and August meetings, respectively.

If the public is opposed to the change, the matter could be put on the ballot for November’s election.

“I hope it doesn’t come to that,” Green said.

If his proposal is approved by council or by vote, Lone Tree’s five city council members would then be tasked with selecting a city manager in 2020.

The move wouldn’t be cheap. Green estimates it would cost roughly $150,000 to cover the salary and benefits for a city manager. As mayor, Green makes $1,000 per year, plus $25 per meeting. Council members earn $500 a year, plus $25 per meeting.

The cost of hiring a city manager would be covered by a property tax increase, Green said. For most residents, the increase would amount to about $20 a month.

Having a city manager on board will “absolutely pay for itself,” Green said.

“A city manager will bring in grant money for revitalization and development,” he said. “I think it will pay off in ways that don’t always show up in the bottom line. Having someone actively focused on developing and improving the community, I think that’s going to be a tremendous pay off.”

The next Lone Tree City Council meeting is May 6.

• Comments: (319) 398-8238; lee.hermiston@thegazette.com

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