The Boonville City Council pumped the brakes on a proposal to allow city administrators to live up to 15 miles outside city limits after residents spoke out against the proposal and the council’s initial plan to fast-track the change.
The ordinance would allow city administrators to live up to 15 miles outside city limits. It would also changed pronouns in the ordinance from “he” to “he/she.” The city will vote on the proposal at its June 3 meeting.
Two residents spoke out against the proposal, pushing the council to postpone a final vote, and prompting Mayor Ned Beach to say it was a mistake for him to try to introduce and pass it in one meeting.
Joe Novy is a Boonville resident who has worked as a code enforcement officer and building inspector in another city, he said. Letting city employees live outside the limits isn’t a big deal, but letting top officials like the city administrator do it is “opening up a can of worms,” Novy said.
An administrator living in the city has more of a vested interest in the community than someone who lives outside it. Someone outside the community could just see it as a job, he said.
“[The city administrator] is the guy that runs the outfit,” Novy said. “He’s the guy that proposes things, brings them to (the council), hopes that you’ll pass them.”
Novy said it was a bad idea when the city opened up six city boards and commissions to residents of Cooper County living outside city limits in February, and the council should reconsider making the change for city administrators. Beach said in February the changes to the boards and commissions were made because the city was struggling to find enough volunteers to serve on them, and because of how many people live near Boonville city limits, use its services, and pay their share of sales taxes.
Ordinances have to be read twice before the council can vote on them. Usually, the council will read an ordinance at one meeting, then read it again and vote at the next meeting. The draft ordinance posted online last Thursday with the meeting’s agenda said it would be read twice and voted on at Monday’s meeting.
Novy said “double readings” are usually set aside for emergencies or for keeping up with state or federal law. There shouldn’t be a rush for this issue, he said. Boonville resident Judy Stock also criticized the rush, saying only the few people who had a reason to check the agenda would have known about the proposed ordinance before Monday’s meeting.
Stock said the city should come up with a specific procedure for presenting bills for approval, and there should be a “very specific” emergency clause detailing when the council can read a bill twice and vote in the same meeting.
“I’ve found what citizens get upset about is not being trusted,” Stock said. “The city government rushing a bill through makes us think someone is trying to put something over on us.”
Beach said he proposed the policy change, because multiple city employees live outside the city limits, he said. Small- and medium-sized cities around Missouri have difficulty finding officials within their borders, and more of them are having to hire from outside, Beach said he learned at Missouri Municipal League meetings. Contracting Alliance Water Resources to run the city’s water department was a great example of the city looking “way outside” they city Beach said.
“And they’re doing a great job,” Beach said.
Beach stood by the policy change, but said it was a mistake to try to push for a first and second reading in the same meeting.
The council read the bill twice, but didn’t vote. It will have a third reading and a vote at the June 3 meeting.