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Strong city government requires a city administrator

February 18, 2010

A $39 million budget.

170 full-time employees.

A wide diversity of services including the departments of parks and recreation, finance, police, fire, public works and housing.

This isn't a job for just anyone.

The training for a city administrator is extensive and requires a master's degree in public administration - an education that includes courses in pubic health, finance, accounting, political science and personnel administration. This job requires the knowledge and ability to understand and execute operations from waste water treatment to zoning and human resources.

Much like a corporation, the city needs a chief executive officer, a position Dick Hierstein has held locally for more than six years.

A citizen's committee is now narrowing the candidates for Marshalltown's next city administrator to comply with Hierstein's June retirement.

This is a time to realize the complexity of city government and why the city administrator position is essential. Every city in Iowa that has the population the size of Marshalltown also has a city administrator, some cities with fewer residents still maintain this position.

Still, some feel this position should be eliminated or should fall on the shoulders of the mayor. We disagree.

The mayor holds the responsibility of overseeing the city council and its meetings, coordinating legislation, city laws and ordinances and carrying out a vision for Marshalltown.

The role of a city administrator spans a much broader horizon. This position means providing management such as day-to-day operation of city departments, oversight of personnel, monitoring of the city budget and providing the highest control of overall city government.

This position is not an extravagance, it's a requirement for a strong city government.



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