City Commission Chooses New Mayor

From left to right. City Manager, Ron Fehr; out-going Mayor, John Matta; and Mayor-elect, Wynn Butler

From left to right. City Manager, Ron Fehr; out-going Mayor, John Matta; and Mayor-elect, Wynn Butler

The City Commission chose Wynn Butler to serve as the new Mayor of Manhattan, during Tuesday’s annual reorganization meeting.

Butler takes over for Commissioner, John Matta, who said he is honored to have served as Mayor of Manhattan for the past year.

“I really want to thank the Commissioners for putting up with me and City Staff for giving me all the support during the year,” Matta said.

With a wry smile, Mayor Butler -who doubles and triples as an Army Veteran and teacher- said he planned on speaking for 30-40 minutes, but decided against it when he recalled an essay written by one of his students.

“She said, ‘Julius Caesar was a soldier. Julius Caesar became a politician. Julius Caesar gave long speeches. They killed him.’ So on that note, I’ll try to keep the speech a little shorter than I’d originally planned.”

After garnering a room full of laughs, Butler got down to business and laid out his visions and goals for the next year. He made his concerns regarding the City’s growing debt very clear, but said there are several simple ways the Commission could tackle the issue.

“First, funding is finite. As a group, we need to set priorities, and we’re gonna have to make some tough decisions. Second, we need to reprogram some funds, sources like economic development, the City/University Fund, and perhaps the CVB,” Butler said.

In just three years, the City debt has grown from $238 million to $278 million. And according to Butler, the City at-large debt has grown by $51 million, meaning each property owner in Manhattan owes the City $10,000.

Another one of Butler’s main priorities is to put the City in a position to win the Heartland Award, a process for total quality control.

“That’s what the Heartland Award is all about, looking at efficiencies, getting the biggest bang for the buck.”

Should the City win the Heartland Award, it could then apply for the Malcolm Baldrige Award, the ‘nation’s only Presidential award for performance excellence’ as described by the nist.gov website. Only two city governments have won it and Butler believes Manhattan’s could be the third by 2016.

Lastly, Mayor Butler nominated Commissioner Karen McCulloh to serve as the next Mayor pro-tem. And if tradition should dictate next year’s reorganization meeting, McCulloh will become Mayor and Commissioner Usha Reddi will follow in 2016.