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Matthias, F. T. (ed.) / The Wisconsin engineer
Volume 33, Number V (February 1929)

Fensel, Alden C.
Municipal administration,   pp. [157]-158


Page [157]


VOLUME 3 3, NO. 5
9LeWISCONS IN
       ENGIN EH t
                       WFRRI%-                             uVT)D1TAPV   1O')O
Municipal Administration
                      By ALDEN C. FENSEL, c'23
       Director of The Municipal Research Bureau of Cleveland
THE government of cities is frequently likened to a
T     business corporation-the voters being the stock-
holders, the city council being the board of directors, and
the mayor being the manager. Such a fancy has been
taken to this simile that some three hundred and fifty
cities are operating under charters which have a manager
as the administrative authority of the city. The postulate
of 4-e m-n-gement 4s centrali,7ationn
of authority -it is supposed to elim-
inate "passing of the buck" and
thereby secure efficiency. The council
is that centralized authority; the
people elect the council and expect
that council to give them a maxi-
mum of service at a minimum cost.
The council selects a manager to
run the city under its direction.
  In a business corporation the nor-
mal function of the management is
to produce and market commodities
at a minimum cost and sell at a
maximum price. The differential is
a very tangible thing known as
profit and satisfies stockholders in the
form of dividends.
  FPrcnt-insy utilfities. a municipality
does not sell commodities -it gives               MR. A.
service. This service is varied in
character and is generally very intangible; the citizen
normally does not know that he is getting a service until
for some reason or other it fails to function. Further, even
if the voter does appreciate the service, he does not know
what it should cost, most of them not even knowing
what it does cost. There is no measuring stick of service.
  The service rendered covers protection of welfare, health,
C
life, and property, maintenance of cleanly conditions with
respect to streets and air, sanitation, expedition of traffic,
and usually the operation of one or more utilities. The
rendering of the service requires the construction of
hospitals, maintenance of staffs of visiting nurses, appli-
cation of quarantine, operation of recreational facilities,
provision of fire and police force, street cleaning, the
                     curbing of fumes and smoke, collec-
tion and disposal of sewage - gar-
bage - and refuse, opening-widen-
ing-paving-and lighting of streets,
and the operation of power and
water plants.
  The administration of the service
requires the operation of public
buildings and structures and the
employment and direction of per-
sonnel. Funds must be collected by
taxes or licenses to finance construc-
tion and operation. The funds must
be properly allocated to the various
activities; control of expenditures by
book-keeping and auditing must be
maintained, and purchases must be
made as cheaply as possible by
proper purchasing control.
FENSEL                 City Management. The city-man-
                     ager pfan is designed to remedy
several faults of the mayor-council type of government.
Short tenure of office, which is a protective measure against
incapable incumbents, under the mayor plan, is not con-
ductive to efficient administration. The mayor is elected
to office from private life; he probably has never had any
experience in pjublic affairs. The city then trains this
man at the expense of the organization, fires him at the
F
/6'in                                           -1.1 1-1     -1


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