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DL may switch to city manager form of government

Although discussion hasn't ceased and no official votes have been cast, it is likely Detroit Lakes will change to a city manager form of government.

For the past month, a city charter committee has been studying charter changes, cleaning up language and making some changes to the managerial structure of the city.

One of the major changes will be moving from a city administrator to city manager. The manager will have the ability to hire and fire all department heads -- for example, street commissioner, liquor store manager, etc.

The city council will be empowered to hire and fire the city manager, but no other city employees.

The structure will be similar to a business, with a CEO (city manager) answering to a board of directors, or the city council in this case. All department heads will now answer to the city manager.

For the most part, this is already happening, but the city charter now states the police chief reports to the mayor. That will change if the proposed amendments to the city charter are adopted.

Much of the wording for the charter changes comes from a model charter published by the National Civic League.

Although it hasn't been discussed yet in the charter committee meetings, section 5.04 and 5.05 states with council's consent, the city manager can hold a department head position along with his/her duty as manager.

City attorney Bill Briggs said it's just to allow flexibility, but he doesn't foresee that happening or being an issue.

Two other changes to the charter include 3.11, where technical codes, like state fire and building codes, will be passed and adopted by the council by ordinance.

Another section that has yet to be discussed, but is proposed to be changed, is 6.08 and the striking of funds, such as library fund, equipment fund, wastewater treatment fund, airport fund, etc.

Briggs said it's his understanding that those funds can be designated under the city administrative code instead of the city charter.

The next meeting of the charter committee is scheduled for April 5 at 4 p.m. in city hall.