Municipal government

Inside the River Bend municipal administration – news – new bern sun journal


Municipalities, if they are to be successful, must operate within complex and mandatory parameters set by the state of North Carolina.

The North Carolina General Assembly must issue a charter to every incorporated city in the state. The charters specify the type of governance authorized in the city or town. More specifically, the requirement will be to operate as mayor –– council or as a form of council – manager government.

The River Bend Charter specifies operation as a form of council-manager government. Almost twenty years ago, the Council asked the General Assembly to change the form of government of the City from Mayor –– Council to Council –– Manager. The General Assembly authorized the change and the new form of government began on July 1, 2001. Now, in this form of government, all staff report to the director as they go about their daily work. The Board establishes the policy and the manager is responsible for the execution of this policy.

The other elements of the city’s operations at River Bend are:

A. River Bend owns and operates the city’s water and sanitation utilities and fulfills the mandate of accounting for these utilities as a business fund, which means the utility finances are not mixed. with general funds (generated by taxes). During the Council –– Manager years, a utility rate study was developed and is used annually to establish the utility rates to be charged for all customers.

B. The manager is designated responsible for the city budget and in this role he works with city department heads and with input from city advisory councils. Each annual budget is discussed with board members at a number of scheduled budget meetings open to the public. Prior to the adoption of the budget, the council holds a public hearing on the budget at its regular meeting in May.

C. On July 1, the start of the city’s financial year, the director and staff then proceed with the implementation of the works and projects provided for in the budget.

D. By the very nature of the management profession, he / she has professional contacts throughout the state which greatly assist in solving local problems. This was particularly evident after Hurricane Florence. Director Jackson used his contacts to greatly benefit the city.

Before board members vote on issues, they spend considerable time reviewing supporting documents and attending meetings. This time commitment is rarely taken into account by the average citizen who may criticize a vote cast by a member of city council.

All council members and even the mayor are human and have friends in the community. Unfortunately, some friendships end when board members with in-depth knowledge of an issue vote based on that information. Often the friend does not have the same facts and then sees the friend on the Council as someone who cannot be trusted.

This discussion is by no means unique to River Bend, but will apply to any municipality in North Carolina, regardless of its size. My prayer for our manager and our board is that we can move beyond the partisan positions of that time and maintain the best traditions of the democratic process given to us by the founders of this nation.


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