Supporters of Saratoga Springs’ current form of government suggest that the Charter Review Commission should have looked to Portland, Oregon, for inspiration about how to “reform” the commission form. Portland is the largest city in the country with the commission form of government. We did take a look and incorporated several key concepts in our charter.
In Portland, commissioners are not elected as the commissioner of finance or public works. Rather, the mayor appoints city council members to serve in those positions. Under the proposed charter, the mayor would have the power to “Appoint Members and officers of the City Council to such standing committees as may be created by the Council.”
Moreover, Portland has a city administrator officer, another name for a city manager. Tom Rinehart, who runs the day-to-day operations of the city for the city council, has an advanced degree and five-plus years of municipal experience. More information on this can be found at www.portlandoregon.gov/cao/.
Under the proposed charter, the city manager would do the same and be required to have “a master’s degree with a concentration in public administration, public affairs or public policy and five years’ experience in an appointed managerial or administrative position in municipal government.”
Portland requires outside and independent audits to prevent fraud, waste and abuse. The proposed charter requires “independent annual audit of all city accounts … performed in accordance with Generally Accepted Auditing Standards and Generally Accepted Governmental Auditing Standards.”
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