GOSHEN — The City Council made no decision on establishing the position of a deputy mayor at its Tuesday, July 16, meeting, choosing instead to postpone the issue until the next meeting to gather more information.
The ordinance establishing the position, if approved, would have formalized the process in which the mayor appoints a person to serve in his or her absence.
City Attorney Larry Barkes explained that the creation of the position would accomplish three things: the mayor would not have to publicly announce when he or she will be out of town at a meeting of the Board of Works, improving safety for the mayor’s property and family; the pool of who could be appointed would no longer be restricted solely to council members; and it would allow for a smoother transition to finding a permanent replacement in the event the acting mayor becomes seriously ill or dies.
Currently, Indiana state law states that since the city has no deputy mayor, the mayor must choose a council member as a replacement if mayoral duties are unable to be performed.
The ordinance that went before the council Tuesday would have broadened the pool of potential appointees to any city employee.
Most of Tuesday’s discussion focused on how strict that pool should be.
Ed Ahlersmeyer wondered if an amendment could be added to the ordinance to allow the council to determine a single position within the city to automatically be appointed to the position if the mayor isn’t present.
The state statute governing the appointment of a deputy mayor, though, would be compromised by such a restriction, Barkes said. The statute says that the appointee must serve at the leisure of the acting mayor and restricting the possibility to a single position would inhibit that, he explained.
“The statute is very clear this is to be at the discretion of the mayor,” he said.
Still, Barkes added, some restriction would likely be permissible, such as the provision that the deputy mayor would have to be a city employee.
With quite a few questions to be worked out on how to restrict or not restrict the pool of potential appointees, and since he sensed no real urgency to get the ordinance passed, Brett Weddell proposed the council postpone a decision until its next meeting. The rest of council agreed it would be best to work through some of the questions before making a final decision.