Governance committee wraps study
MADISON – Madison Governance Committee 2025 used its last scheduled meeting to learn about the state legislature’s role in how an Alabama city chooses its type of municipal government.
Since Sept 2., the governance committee has met weekly to analyze the type of municipal government structure that Madison needs. As committee member Cynthia McCollum summarized, “This committee is visionary to look at what we need in the future.”
On Oct. 14, Perry Roquemore Jr., who worked 37 years with Alabama League of Municipalities, advised the committee about legal issues in changing forms of city government. He heard from committee members who have visited Decatur, Mountain Brook, Vestavia Hills, Hoover and Auburn to survey their governance structures.
“I was around at the league when they did what they did” in choosing a form of city government, Roquemore said. “Each one of those options (from other cities) is not available to you … without legislation.”
Roquemore referred to “Dillon’s rule,” which basically allows Alabama cities to “do what the legislature has allowed them to do.” Crafted by Chief Justice Forest Dillon, the Dillon rule contrasts with “home rule, which means a city can do anything that the law doesn’t prohibit.”
The Alabama legislature has given much more authority city governments than to counties, Roquemore said.
“A city can only have a form of government that is authorized by the legislature,” Roquemore said. “Any form of government (mayor/council, city manager/council, city administrator and so forth) can work, and any of those can fail. It comes down to the willingness of people to work together.”
Roquemore said Madison has several options:
* Keeping the mayor/council configuration.
* Using council/city manager like Auburn.
* Creating the position of city administrator (or administrative assistant to mayor), subject to mayor’s guidance.
* Entering a bill in the legislature to create a special governance for the City of Madison.
About eight cities are using the city manager form in approximately 470 Alabama cities.
Roquemore stressed the importance of training and education for elected officials.
Committee chairman John Allen soon will release a ‘white paper’ with the committee’s findings.