For the first time in many years, the mayor plans to name himself as chair of one of a City Council committee.
Mayor Art Ward said he’s eyeing the prospect of naming himself as the head of the Salary Committee. He said he may want to chair another panel as well.
Ward said he also intends to ax some committees.
Those on the chopping block include the Roberts Property Committee and the Theater Committee.
The mayor said both panels were created to push projects – a recreation complex on the former Roberts property and a community theater at Memorial Boulevard School – that can’t be funded anytime soon.
It’s not clear what other committees may be wiped out.
Ward, who won reelection Tuesday by a wide margin, said he will take a couple of weeks before handing out committee assignments to the council.
He said he wants to take enough time to ensure that all six councilors, including three newcomers, have a chance to take on assignments that interest them.
City Councilor Frank Nicastro said the three veteran councilors who won reelection this week “are going to have their hands full” dealing with “giant committees” such as the Real Estate and Ordinance panels.
“I don’t envy them,” Nicastro said.
Ward said that eliminating unnecessary committees will free up busy councilors to focus on more pressing issues and problems.
The mayor said that he can always reinstate the Roberts, Theater or other committees down the road if circumstances change.
In the meantime, Ward said, “it’s fruitless to spend the time and effort” to keep alive committees that can’t really do anything.
Ward’s decision to take the helm of the Salary panel, Nicastro said, “is a very wise move. That’s a very professional move.”
He said that Ward, who chaired the panel as a councilor years ago, can take on the job without missing a beat.
Nicastro said that two of the three council members who serve on the Salary panel – Mike Rimcoski and Nicastro – won’t be back after newcomers take their place Monday.
So for the mayor to bring his experience to the panel, Nicastro said, is “a wise thing.”
Nicastro said that once the newly elected councilors have some time in office, Ward may shuffle the assignments a little.
“Once these guys and ladies all get their feet wet, a year from now, if he wants he can name somebody chairman,” Nicastro said.
Nicastro served as mayor from 1993 to 2003. He has been on the council since 2005, but stepped down this year to focus on his job as state representative for the 79th District.
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