ELECTION 2013: What is a 'strong mayor'?

Posted by ADAM BEAM on November 25, 2013 

Columbia mayor Steve Benjamin waves from a Milatary Police vehicle during the the 35th Annual Veterans Day Parade. Brigadier General Bradley A. Becker, the 46th commanding general at Fort Jackson, was this year's grand marshal.

JEFF BLAKE — jblake@thestate.com Buy Photo

— Columbia voters will go to the polls next week to decide whether to pay Steve Benjamin $75,000 a year or $160,000 a year.

Well, there's a bit more to it than that.

If voters decide to make Benjamin a "strong mayor," he would get the bigger salary because he would be the city manager, with power to hire and fire employees. If voters decide to keep the current system -- with a city manager hired by a majority vote of City Council's seven members -- Benjamin would get $75,000 (still a big increase form his current $17,500 annual salary.)

Clif LeBlanc is writing about it. He has a good round up of exactly what Columbia voters will be voting on. From his story:

Columbia’s 2,230 full- and part-time workers are at-will employees, meaning they can be fired by the city manager. But all except 85, who are part-timers, have grievance rights. That means they can fight their dismissal. Ultimately, the manager makes the call. Council has no legal authority to influence hiring and firing decisions except for those of city manager, city attorney and municipal judges.

All of that authority would transfer to a strong mayor if the system changed.

Click here to read the full story.

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