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Newberry Draft Of City Charter Shifts Roles For Mayor, City Manager

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The city of Newberry’s Charter Review Committee completed a draft of a new municipal charter earlier this week, after nearly 10 months of work.

The revised charter shifts the mayor’s role in governing the Newberry to the city manager, and replaces the mayor’s veto power with an objection.

Newberry Mayor Jordan Marlowe said that updating the governing document is necessary to keep up with the times.

“Right now our charter has one foot in the old world and one foot in the new,” Marlowe said. “It puts the mayor in charge in some situations and the manager in others.”

When establishing Newberry’s Charter Review Committee 10 months ago, commissioner Tim Marden said the city commission set goals on certain key points apart from the city manager responsibilities.

Marden said he wants to see the new charter focus on maintaining core services and the city adapting to advances in technology such as social media.

“We like to self-critique,” Marden said. The challenges of running a city only grow with size and scope, he said.

Commissioner Paul Norfleet shared similar views. “You always have to look forward to the future and take care of what sustains you.”

Marlowe said municipalities will generally review their charter every seven to 10 years. This doesn’t necessarily mean that anything changes, but provides a forum to consider ways the city can adapt to a changing world.

The previous charter, in effect during the 1990s, essentially had the mayor play an active managing role for Newberry.  The city adopted its current charter in 2006, which states: “The City Commission may appoint a city manager…”

At a municipal budget workshop on Wednesday night, current Newberry city manager Mike New estimated that Newberry’s population is hovering around 6,300.

“Newberry is big enough, and growing enough, where it’s really clear we need to firmly be in a commission-manager model of government,” Marlowe said.

He explained that, currently, his role is more about policy than management. “The mayor runs the meetings, and is more of the face and voice of the city.”

The new draft of the charter will be reviewed at three workshops throughout the summer before being brought to the Newberry City Commission for approval during two meetings. The dates have not yet been determined.

“A city’s personality begins with its charter,” said Marlowe.

About Marcelo Rondon

Marcelo Rondon Llamas is a general assignment reporter for WUFT. He can be reached at news@wuft.org or (352)294-6397

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