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A group of residents that convened to recommend the best form of government for Little Rock believes the mayor should have the power to put his own team in place.

The mayor's authority to hire the city's chief administrative officer and city attorney is one of the elements of city government that the group is considering for a report it will present to Mayor Frank Scott Jr. and the city board by June 30.

The 11 members reached a consensus at Wednesday's meeting that the mayor should have that power, no matter what form the group recommends. The city board also should have the authority to remove an appointee by two-thirds vote, members said.

Under Ordinance No. 19761, which voters approved in 2007, the mayor's authority to nominate, hire or remove the city manager and city attorney, as well as candidates for any vacancy occurring on any board, authority or commission, is subject to approval by two-thirds of the city Board of Directors.

By giving the mayor direct appointment power, "the public is able to hold one person accountable," said Preston Eldridge, the group's Ward 3 appointee.

Karen Buchanan, an at-large member of the group, said she supports giving the mayor that power, relating an anecdote of calling the city to ask when her street would be swept and going up through a chain of managers to no avail.

"At the end of the day, I realized I could not hold the mayor accountable," Buchanan said.

The study group is debating other elements of Little Rock's governance, including whether to keep, remove or repurpose at-large city directors or council members and the number of people who serve on the city's governing body.

Little Rock currently has a hybrid between a mayor/council form of government and a city manager form of government with a board of directors.

Metro on 05/16/2019

Print Headline: LR panel supports letting mayor hire

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