SYRACUSE -- Dissecting the many powers of the mayor and city council will be an going process in this community, despite efforts by Mayor Jamie Nagle to move on to another topic.
"How much more time are we going to spend on this issue?" Nagle said Tuesday, as discussion of Title II and the powers and responsibilities of the mayor and city council came up in a work session.
"As much time as we need," Councilman Brian Duncan said.
Nagle said the issue has become personal and that there are other issues council members should be addressing.
Duncan said the issue is not personal, in his view.
"It is personal. We've spent so much time researching this issue. You're not going to be happy with the answer until the answer can circumvent the mayor," Nagle said.
Besides discussion of the powers of the different offices, there appear to be other matters for elected officials to deal with in regard to Title II, which was passed by a 3-2 vote approximately 18 months ago.
Several residents have alleged the vote to enact the new title did not comply with statutory requirements because the ability of the mayor to hire and fire changed and Nagle did not vote on the passage of the title. A mayor typically does not vote on council matters unless the vote breaks a deadlock.
City Attorney Will Carlson has raised four possible areas of concern in regard to the new code, and said he will prepare a brief for the next meeting to address those concerns. There is a possibility council members and the mayor may be asked to vote anew on enacting Title II into law. He even raised the possibility of needing to rewrite the code.
Carlson outlined possible scenarios if the city were to face a legal challenge on Title II and he consulted with Layton City Attorney Gary Crane on the guideline. Crane is considered an expert on municipal law in Utah.
Duncan is concerned with some limitations he sees in the new code. He said he'd like to know what the old code contained and compare it to Title II, before coming to a conclusion.
"I do want to take the time necessary and make my own conclusions," Duncan said.
Nagle isn't the only one wanting to move forward beyond the issue. Councilman Doug Peterson thinks the council should address the four concerns in the code and then move on.
In researching the old code and comparing it to Title II, Carlson said there are 14 mayoral powers, duties and functions and said four changes were approved in the revision to the code.
The changes include:
* The old code opened all records and documents to inspection by the mayor, while the new code specifies that such examination is on an as-needed basis.
* The mayor lost the power to pardon. The old code gave the mayor the ability to remit fines and forfeitures and release any person imprisoned for violation of city ordinance, while the new code takes away that power.
* Defined peacemaking powers are removed. In the old code the mayor had the ability to suppress disorder and keep the peace. That power is not part of the new Title II.
* The oddest change of all is power in the new code to call on adult women, not just men, to enforce the law. In Title II, the mayor has the power to call on residents of the city older than 21, men and women, to assist in law enforcement.
Beyond the four changes, Carlson said the old code included a catch-all that provided both the mayor and city council all rights, powers, privileges and authority conferred by state law. That provision now applies to just the city council.
"While none of these powers are frequently exercised by mayors in Utah, they are each on the state's enumerated list of those powers that require the vote of either the mayor and a council majority or a unanimous council without the mayor to change. Accordingly, the passage of Title II did not comply with state voting requirements and it may be appropriately reconsidered by the mayor and council," Carlson said.