Michelle Amberg – Creswell City Administrator
Council was tasked to consider whether to use the title of ”city administrator” versus ”city manager” for Administrator Michelle Amberg’s position at last week’s city council meeting.
”The terms are used synonymously and persons in cities perform the same duties regardless of title,” Amberg said in a memo addressed to council. ”However, there are a few subtle differences in my mind.”
Amberg noted that the ”city administrator” title alludes to the person who manages a small city organization, supervises two to five people and has developed their skills on the job.
That title reflects that the administrator also serves as the city recorder and takes minutes at the city council meetings, performs duties and is more engaged in the day-to-day activities of the city, she said.
The term also reflects that the person is serving the city with a population under 5,000.
Conversely, Amberg said that the term ”city manager is a more professional title,” and recognizes that the incumbent has a master degree in public administration and at has at least five years of management experience in a public agency prior to employment as a city manager.
The term ”city manager” also reflects that the person ”manages a complex city organization with department heads and staff, is more a specialist because there are sufficient staff to handle day-to-day activities” and serves a population over 5,000.
Amberg said that people seeking employment as a city manager may not consider positions with the city administrator title because it may be seen as less professional.
”However, truth be told, either title can be used and there are examples of large cities with city administrators and small towns with city managers,” she said.
The City of Creswell also uses the term ”city administrator” to reference its chief administrative officer and is used in the Creswell City Charter. The charter establishes that the office of city administrator is the administrative head of the city government.
”This (title change) can be a time-consuming process requiring a vote,” City Attorney Ross Williamson said.
Changes to the Creswell City Charter require approval by the city electorate, and would involve putting together proposed amendments and placing them on the ballot as a referral to Creswell voters, Williamson said.
Williamson added that changes to the Creswell Municipal Code can accomplish a title change and can be put in place by a council ordinance.
”These changes would make the title change official,” Williamson said. ”But since the terms are basically synonymous, I think council could approve an update to (Amberg’s) title for the purpose of (Amberg’s) job description now, with the formal change to come later.”
He said that the job description could be changed to reference the new position, and state within the description that the city manager carries out all the functions of the city administrator.
Council directed staff to bring an ordinance to the September city council meeting to administratively change the title of city administrator to city manager.
Subsequent changes to the Charter will require a public vote and must be done at a regular election in November 2020.