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Could Mayor Oversee Next City Administrator?

Waukesha Human Resources Committee recommends having city administrator report back to the mayor's position.

Waukesha Mayor Jeff Scrima could have his administrative power over the city administrator position restored if the Common Council follows the unanimous recommendation made Tuesday night by the council's Committee.

Scrima’s supervision role over the city administrator was removed in the summer 2010 after conflicts between him and then-city administrator Lori Luther led aldermen to unanimously make the change in reporting structure.

The move infuriated Scrima’s supporters, who would frequently use the public comment section of council meetings to criticize the city administrator and the council over the change.

The Human Resources Committee defined the job description during its meeting Tuesday night as the city begins a national search to replace Luther, who left in . The job description reverts to the job description before the 2010 reporting structure change, but with some caveats.

Major changes include these job descriptions:

  • "Performance evaluations are based on assessments by members of the Common Council, including the mayor and city department heads."
  • "Supervise the development and implementation of the city’s strategic plan."
  • "Effectuate actions of the Common Council and implement administrative matters as directed by the mayor. Where a conflict arises between directives from the mayor and lawful actions of the Common Council, the actions of the Common Council shall prevail and the city administrator shall effectuate the actions of the Common Council."

 “We have complex city problems to solve,” Scrima said. “It would seem most beneficial for all to restore the reporting of the city administrator to the original restructure before we hire a new city administrator as a clear demonstration to our citizens that we mutually respect each other and our unique roles and that we are all proud to be working together toward a thriving and productive city.”

For Common Council President Paul Ybarra, the words “mutual respect” were key to his support of restoring the reporting structure back to the mayor. Ybarra is not on the Human Resources Committee.

“I just want to remind everyone that this mayor’s actions required the Common Council to take our own action. That was an important vote by the Common Council and it was unanimous,” Ybarra said. “Very few votes are unanimous, which tells me that each alderman reviewed the evidence that was laid out there and felt strongly about that.

“The mayor discussed reporting back to the previous structure, which I can support, provided he continues to do the things he talked about," Ybarra added. "He discussed mutual respect for others. If that happens, I think we will run smoothly.”

Alderman Roger Patton lobbied for the reporting structure to go back to the mayor’s authority, suggesting that it could change in the future, if needed. He also requested the city administrator’s office be in the same office as the mayor’s office. Luther had switched rooms in City Hall amid the controversial clashes between she and Scrima .

“The two need to work together on a daily basis,” Patton said about the new city administrator. “That can happen I think with that secretary in the middle.”

The committee has not yet established a salary range for the position. They will take up the salary issue March 20 before the Common Council meeting. The job description and salary would then be on the council agenda for approval that same night.

Tim Nekich March 14, 2012 at 11:25 AM
If as stated in the article, The final authority in conflicts is that of the Common Council. And this is defined within the document. I am comfortable and would urge support.
Paul Furrer March 14, 2012 at 05:05 PM
You're right Tim, it's the Council's call they're the ones who have to make it work.
Sarah Wonderiling March 14, 2012 at 08:15 PM
We saw what had to be done when we lost Lori because of Scrima's inability to work together for the common good. Leave it with the council. When we have the city administrator, change the mayors job to part time. I am sorry to keep dogging the mayor but we thought we had it bad with Larry...now we wish Larry was back!

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