Possible changes coming to Kennett city government - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Possible changes coming to Kennett city government

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Robertson says he has nothing against any of the current council members or the mayor. He says he takes issue with the system, not the people. Robertson says he has nothing against any of the current council members or the mayor. He says he takes issue with the system, not the people.
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KENNETT, MO (KFVS) -

Voters in Kennett could soon be asked whether or not to change the way their city operates.

Some people in town want to hire a city manager instead of having only the council and the mayor in charge.

So far, about 100 people have signed a petition that would put this issue on the November ballot.

The man who is heading up this effort, John Robertson, said Kennett has outgrown its current form of government.

“You cannot manage something this size by committee or part-time," Robertson said. "I am not negative on any of the people we have in office. They are good people. We need more of them who are willing to step up and serve the community. I am negative on the present system. I think it is time for us to move into the 21st century."

John Robertson is the president of Southern Bank in Kennett. He said it's time for a change.

“It’s much like having a school board and not having a superintendent. You have got to have a superintendent to follow the direction of the school board, but he has to be there every day,” Robertson said. “We now have a budget that exceeds $6 million and could perhaps go up to as much as $8 million depending on sales tax. We need someone there five days a week.”

If the petition is a success, voters will decide whether to keep what they have now which is a council/mayor government or to change to a new council/city manager form of government. The council would go from 10 members to seven and that council would hire a city manager. The role of mayor would also change.

“From that council, they would elect their own mayor. This mayor would preside over meetings, ribbon cuttings, but he would have no executive authority. He would have one vote just like the rest,” Robertson said.

Robertson said he has nothing against any of the current council members or the mayor. He said he takes issue with the system, not the people.

This form of government would not be new to the Heartland. Other cities like Poplar Bluff, Sikeston, and Cape Girardeau all have council/manager forms of city government.

According to research done by professors at Southeast Missouri State University, the average salary for a city manager in a town of Kennett’s size is anywhere from $65,000 to $95,000 per year.

“Looking at the budget, I don’t think there would have to be additional funds raised,” Robertson said. “I think we can afford something in that range. The efficiency, the direction, I think our community is crying for direction right now, and I think this would be a good step to give us direction.”

The petition will need 860 signatures before this issue appears on the ballot in November.

“Openly there is no opposition to this. It may come when we get it on the ballot,” Robertson said.

Kennett Mayor Jake Crafton also commented on this issue. He said he supports the change and certainly is in favor of bringing it to a vote of the citizens of Kennett in November.

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