HEYBURN — During a nearly three hour City Council meeting Wednesday, the city’s new mayor asked the council to restore his authority over city personnel, which was delegated to the city administrator by the former mayor.
Mayor Mark Rosa said during the meeting that he and City Administrator Tony Morley had worked through multiple issues during the past two weeks and he felt like they were establishing a good working relationship.
Morley did not comment.
A training video on city governance was shown during the meeting, followed by the request for the council to pass an ordinance to restore the mayor’s powers to hire, fire and discipline employees. The council tabled the issue so it could be studied further.
Rosa said the authority over personnel should be shifted back to him because the person giving direction to department heads should not also be the human resources representative.
“The HR and boss should never be the same person,” Rosa said.
In Burley, the mayor has authority over personnel, but in Rupert the administrator oversees employees, City Attorney Paul Ross said.
Under the law, the authority lies with the mayor, Ross said, but the authority can be delegated. The mayor also can cast a tie-breaking vote on council decisions and veto an ordinance passed by a council, but the council has the power to then override the mayor’s veto.
Councilman Dick Galbraith said he has a problem changing the ordinance to reflect Rosa’s request, and conflicts can arise if there is an employee issue and the part-time mayor is not around.
“Our administrator is here with boots on the ground, day in and day, out all day long and is in the position to handle it,” Galbraith said.
Rosa also requested that a gender neutral pronoun be removed from the previous ordinance and his pronoun inserted.
At the end of the discussion, Rosa told the council to think about their “personal liability” if something “is done in his name” and he “didn’t authorize it.”
Ross said in an email to the Times-News on Thursday that items are put on the council’s agenda during an administration meeting and everyone at the meeting discusses and reviews them and they move forward accordingly.
“Heyburn administration is still working on coming to a common understanding and progressing forward for the benefit of Heyburn,” Ross wrote in the email.
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In a separate matter, Rosa promised to veto an ordinance that has been in the works for more than a year.
The ordinance would require officials to put down a vicious dog after a second bite. Councilwoman Joanne Justesen, who is the city’s representative on the county joint animal control board, said the board had worked on the issue for more than a year.
Rosa disagreed with the plan and said each case needs to be considered individually and should receive “due process.”
Justesen made a motion for a first reading of the ordinance by title only and said she would take Rosa’s concerns back to the board. The motion was unanimously approved by the council.
A union representative from the Idaho AFL-CIO was brought in to talk about enrolling employees in a union.
“I’m completely opposed to it,” Justesen said.
Justesen said unionizing the employees would create a constraint for city operations, which rely on set taxes for funding.
The council unanimously agreed to not pursue employee enrollment.
The council also unanimously approved continuing with a project to install gas and diesel fuel tanks at the city’s new maintenance shop after the project was questioned by Rosa, who was concerned about possible spills with the tanks.
Rosa said fuel tanks at his previous place of employment were a problem.
Justesen said the council had previously studied the issue and she felt they were safe and cost efficient for the city.
“I really think it’s safe,” said Justesen, who noted the tanks were on asphalt, where any possible spills could be easily contained.
“I’d like to move forward and stay on target with the project and with what we’ve put in place,” she said.
In other business, the council authorized the city’s bond attorney to draft documents to proceed with a water bond election. The amount still needs to be set along with an election date. The council will put together a plan to educate the public about the city’s water infrastructure.
During time allotted for the mayor, Rosa also asked the council’s permission to use a meeting room at City Hall for National Rifle Association and Idaho Fish and Game meetings. He is a member of both groups.
The council agreed to table the request for further consideration after Justesen said she felt comfortable allowing the mayor to use the community meeting room across the street at the police station for his meetings.