Columbia council to discuss strong mayor

Columbia, (WACH) â?? Columbia City Council will take public input at its Tuesday council meeting on whether the city should switch from a council-manager form of government to a mayor-council or â??strong mayorâ?? format.

The city manager has the power to hire and fire department heads under the current system, but those powers would be shifted to the mayor under the mayor-council format.

"This is about democracy, and the people deserve an opportunity to have their voice heard about whether or not they want a strong form of government,â?? said newly elected Councilman Cameron Runyan.

According to state records, 157 municipalities in South Carolina operate under a strong mayor, including Charleston.

"Accountability is there because they elect that person, but what happens if they don't do a good job?" said Dennis Lambries, a research associate at the USC Institute for Public Service.

Outgoing Columbia City Councilwoman Belinda Gergel is hoping the council will take a first reading on the issue Tuesday.

A second reading is required this summer in order for the measure to appear on the November ballot.