LINCOLN — The mayor of Lincoln is considering asking voters to give him the authority to fire more city employees through a change to the city charter.
Mayor Chris Beutler is considering seeking a charter amendment that would declassify some senior staffers, making them at-will employees. Currently, the only employees who serve at the mayor’s pleasure are about a dozen department heads and a handful of aides.
Although Beutler has replaced much of his cabinet since being elected in 2007, most of the city’s roughly 2,000 city employees are unionized, classified employees, who can’t be fired without cause. That makes it difficult for the mayor to terminate someone he doesn’t think is doing a good job.
Beutler’s chief of staff, Rick Hoppe, said no final decisions have been made on whether to ask voters to change that.
“We are still discussing whether to proceed and what a potential ballot issue might look like,” he said via email.
Asked what the rationale for such a change was, aide Trish Owen said one word: “Accountability.”
Such a proposal would not affect current employees, he said, but only new hires. Assistant department heads and division heads would likely be in the crosshairs.
Beutler has been talking about how he’d like to have more power to hire, fire and discipline more employees for at least three years. Changes to the city charter must be approved by voters, however.
Reported by Deena Winter, firstname.lastname@example.org
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