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Some Northern Michigan voters may not be able to decide on city positions to be filled anymore

LAKE CITY — Some people across Northern Michigan will be seeing a different kind of option on their ballot Tuesday.

That includes voters in Lake City who will decide if some city positions will be appointed instead of elected.

Mayor of Lake City Craig Ardis says this is the first time they will see this on their ballot.

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“They’re not policymakers, these two positions. So, there’s no reason for them to be an elected official,” says Ardis.

For years, voters in Lake City have decided who will fill positions like City Clerk and Treasurer, but that could change tomorrow with voters deciding if those positions will be instead appointed by the city council.

“It opens it up to outside of the city. It doesn’t just have to be in the city. How many people are you going to get that have the skill sets that you need in a small community like that?” says Ardis.

He says that putting the plan on the ballot was making sure people with the appropriate skill sets hold treasurer and clerk positions.

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“When you got a $8 million budget, you just don’t want anybody managing that,” says Ardis. “That’s why we’re looking to move them to appointment. So, we can get full time employees in here that can do the job that are skilled and knowledgeable of the job.”

City leaders were also looking for a way to keep people in these positions.

“We’ve struggled. And so, I’m not saying that people haven’t done a good job, they have, but we need to up the game because we’re managing them in a municipality business and there’s quite a bit of money involved and there’s quite a bit of responsibility and record keeping. So, we just need skilled people to do that,” says Ardis.

While the idea may be new for voters in Lake City, other towns and city have made similar moves.

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“If you do some homework, you’ll see there’s a large number of communities that have already gone to this appointment. If every four years a new election comes up and someone else wants to run and it becomes a popularity contest, are you getting the skilled people that you need to do the job,” he says.

If voters approve the plan, it could take up to two years for it to go into effect.

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