Yakima City Council agrees to move discussion on government change - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Yakima City Council agrees to move discussion on government change

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YAKIMA, Wash. – The Yakima City Council voted 7–0 Tuesday to schedule a public hearing for further discussion on a possible change in the city's style of government.

During a study session at city hall, the council met with experts in local government for the state of Washington and learned more about the "Mayor-Council" and "Council-Manager" formats.

Yakima currently has the latter, allowing the elected council members to select a mayor as a ceremonial position. The city manger acts as the main administrator of departments and employees.

Rich Yukubousky is the executive director of the Municipal Research and Services Center of Washington. He says the public may prefer hiring or electing a mayor who also manages the city.

"Somebody that's elected by the citizens who then represents the citizens and are able then to take a more political role," he said.

Yukubousky testified in front of the council along with a representative for the Associations of Washington Cities. Neither advocated for one form of government but gave their experiences with both.

Experts said Tuesday the decision to pursue the "Mayor-Council" format could turn off any applicants hoping to replace Dick Zais as city manager. It would also take time away from the council to focus on current issues in front of the city.

If a change were made, the mayor position would take the place of one of the At-Large positions on the council.

A few of those in attendance shared their thoughts on the idea and all were concerned about a possible switch in government format.

Yukubousky says 80 percent of the state's cities are on the "Mayor-Council" format but only 44 percent of the state's population fall into that form of government.