Annually we vote for either 2 or 3 of the City Council positions becoming vacant. Let’s take some time to consider what the job of the City Council member is. The City Council is responsible for running the city. The City Council votes among its members to decide which city council member is Mayor, whose main extra duty is to run the monthly meetings. The City Manager reports directly to the City Council, as does the City’s lawyer, and the City Clerk. The rest of the departments and enterprise units report to the City Manager. Vero, while a small city has a wide set of functions, let me be more specific.
The city proper consists of six basic departments, from largest to smallest they are police, public works, recreation, finance, general administration, and planning and zoning. In addition to the City’s functions, the City has five Enterprise Funds which are separate businesses that are operated by the City, which are: Vero Electric, Sewer and Water, City Marina, City Airport, and the Solid Waste service.
The challenge of a new council member to understand the function and quality of each of these departments and services so that he/she can make rational decisions about funding, personnel or structural changes to each. Most new council members have a steep learning curve to become familiar with the functions of the city.
The monthly schedule of a City Council member is to attend two City Council meetings, and many members find it best to attend two or three Commission meetings, usually Finance, Utilities and Planning and Zoning. Further, meeting with the City Manager on a regular basis is recommended to keep up with current issues. Finally, there are several civic events, celebrations, or organizational milestones to which each member is invited.
To help new city council members get their hands around the job, there is a three-day workshop is offered, which is excellent, and all the staff are open and easy about fielding questions about what they do and why. A City Council member receives $10,000 per year in compensation.