Statistics on growth of “Board/Manager” form of community governance

Supervisor Terry Gonser is proposing going back to the form of Township governance our community had prior to 1998, where his position would be a full time position.  There are several 2016 Oakland Township Board candidates that support Terry Gonser’s re-election candidacy, and presumably support his desire to make this change. 

Statistics published by the International City/Council Management Association (ICMA) indicate that many communities are moving toward the form of governance Oakland Township currently has, not away from it.  Their data indicates the size of a community influences the form of governance the communities choose.

After several attempts, we have not been successful in obtaining written statements from Supervisor Gonser (although his past actions make his position clear) , or several other Board candidates, regarding their position on this issue.  The citizens of Oakland Township deserve to understand each candidate’s position before they cast their ballots. Unfortunately the following have been reluctant to provide their positions.

We have not received responses from:

  • Terry Gonser – Supervisor Candidate
  • Judy Workings – Clerk Candidate
  • Jayson Corey – Trustee Candidate
  • Lana Mangiapane – Trustee Candidate
  • Robert Ricketts – Trustee Candidate who has withdrawn from race

The statements from the other candidates can be read by clicking:

SEE 2016 CANDIDATE OPINIONS

Here is more information on ICMA and the statistics they provided:

The ICMA is an organization that:

“identifies leading practices to address the needs of local governments and professionals serving communities globally. We provide services, research, publications, data and information, peer and results-oriented assistance, and training and professional development to thousands of city, town, and county leaders and other individuals and organizations throughout the world. The management decisions made by ICMA’s members affect millions of people living in thousands of communities, ranging in size from small towns to large metropolitan areas.”

Here is a quote from their website regarding the form of governance in communities (note: the ‘board-manager’ form of governance for a Township is similar to the ‘council-manager’ form for a village or city):

“Since it was first created a century ago, the council-manager form of government has become the most popular structure of local government in the United States. While many new municipalities have been incorporated with managers from their beginnings, many cities and counties across the country have made a deliberate change from strong-mayor to council-manager. Appointing a non-partisan professional manager with the authority to carry out the policies set by the elected body has advantages for many communities, and several have recently made the switch.”

The ICMA has provided data on how the preferred form of governance changes as a community increases in size.  Here is a graph of that data:

(click on image to enlarge it)

Form of governance vs. Community size

As you can see, when a community is small in size, it tends to have a “Mayor-Council’ or “Supervisor-Board” form of governance.  As it grows, and the complexity of managing the community increases,  it tends to move toward a “Council-Manager” or “Board-Manager” form of governance, where a professionally trained manager handles the administrative issues of the community at the direction of the Board.  Once a community gets above 250,000 residents, the “Mayor-Council” form of governance comes back into favor.

Oakland Township’s 2010 population was almost 17,000.  With that population size, 53% of the 1,847 communities surveyed have a “Board-Manager” form of governance, similar to what Oakland Township currently possesses.  The reasons for the increase in popularity of this form of governance are expressed by many of the the Oakland Township Board candidates that support retaining our current form of governance, SEE 2016 CANDIDATE OPINIONS, as well as the Kalamazoo Township Board that is moving to this form of governance, SEE KALAMAZOO BOARD DECISION.

Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township?  As previously stated, there are several 2016 candidates that support Supervisor Gonser.  If they get elected, they may be successful in making his position a full time position. There are a few candidates (identified above) that have not provided their position on this critical issue.  Please consider the information that is available when you vote.

Richard Michalski

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