GREEN RIVER — With SweetwaterNOW’s reporting on the details of City Administrator Reed Clevenger’s compensation from the City of Green River, it’s important to note what led the city to adopt the city administrator form of government and how it operates.
According to the City of Green River’s website about its form of government, the city administrator form was introduced to combat those concerns and create a buffer between a city’s elected representation and its employees.
In Wyoming, a municipal government can take one of three forms – the mayor-council, the city manager, and the mayor-administrator forms. Green River and Rock Springs differ in how their municipal governments function. Rock Springs utilizes the mayor-council government, which gives Mayor Max Mickelson tremendous power in the day-to-day operations of the city and the appointment of department heads. It’s the traditional form of government utilized by municipalities but can lead to instances of strong and potentially corrupt city leaders.
Green River operates under the mayor-administrator format, which was first introduced when the Green River City Council adopted a charter ordinance in 1985. The charter ordinance creates the city administrator role and cedes powers typically reserved for a mayor to the administrator, with the administrator’s responsibilities and goals set by the mayor and council. The governing body’s role is to set policy and the administrator is tasked with ensuring those policies are enacted, along with overseeing day-to-day management of the city. Meanwhile, Mayor Pete Rust’s position gives him the powers and duties of a Council member, but he also has the ability to make appointments to city boards and commissions for Council approval and signs ordinances and bonds enacted by the Council. Another role, the Council President, is elected by members of the Council to fill in for the mayor during absences.
Green River isn’t the only Wyoming city with a city administrator. Cody currently employs former Green River City Administrator Barry Cook, while Gillette, Jackson, Riverton and others also employ the format. However, according to the Wyoming Association of Municipalities, the mayor-council format is the most widely used.
Green River could revert to a mayor-council form of government if it repeals the 1985 charter ordinance and discussion to do that took place more than a decade ago. Following Cook’s 2012 departure from the city, Mayor Hank Castillon initiated conversations to repeal the charter ordinance, with an ordinance to repeal the charter ordinance brought to the Council during its May 15, 2012, meeting (Note: the agenda incorrectly identifies the meeting having took place Aug. 21, 2012). However, the push was short-lived. The repealing ordinance died when no one seconded its first reading and the city ultimately hired Marty Black as its next administrator.