SM Creates Framework for Ad Hoc Recommendations

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Cindy Collins
Cindy Collins

It began with a restructuring of City Hall administrative operations.
That process remains underway, but by the time it’s finished, officials say it also will make easier the process of addressing the litany of recommendations for improving city operations as submitted by last year’s ad hoc committee and its advisory group.
“It’s a lot, with capitals,” said interim City Manager Cindy Collins, in an interview after the council approved her report on city staff responses and recommendations based on the committee’s findings.
The City Council in April voted to set the changes in motion, agreeing in a 4-1 decision to replace both the finance director and assistant city manager positions with an administrative services director and a human resources manager. The measure also calls for an accountant to keep track of finances.
With that decision on the books, Collins, who expects to cede her position to a permanent city manager by the start of the next fiscal year in July, said the city can now move forward with further changes.
“The first step was to see if the council wanted to follow through on the restructures,” Collins explained. “That was probably the No. 1 significant change.”
Collins outlined these additional changes at the April 28 morning study session, with the transition to opening City Hall for the full five-day work week generating the most attention from audience members.
According to plans, by fall City Hall will open Fridays at 7 a.m. until noon, which came to the relief of several audience members who had expressed frustration with being unable to meet with city planners on Fridays. City Hall also will stay open until 5 p.m. on weekdays, as opposed to 4 p.m. now.
Shift scheduling will be adjusted to accommodate those changes.
“Most likely, the schedule will be done by two tracks,” Collins said. “The high activity in City Hall is really in the morning. That’s why we open at 7 a.m.”
There will be a large number of other recommendations addressed as time goes on. Departmental accounting procedures will be updated, handled and documented by cross-trained personnel. A system through which employees directly log hours, breaks and work orders will be created. The city will seek resident volunteers to make sure there always is someone to answer the phone or address walk-ins at the main desk.
“We have a community full of citizens with specific interests,” said Susan Jakubowski, one of the ad hoc committee advisers, when speaking at the study session. “I think we will be pleasantly surprised by the interest we find from the community.”
More thoroughly, the city plans to develop an employees and procedures policy handbook to go along with updated job descriptions and procedures for employee evaluation and discipline. The Public Works Department already presented a long-range goal for funding and maintenance. The city also is taking proactive steps to try to address long-term fiscal goals and the looming unfunded pension liability crisis.
The changes will start to fall into place once the city has a permanent manager (candidates are being vetted now) and administrative services director, who likely will be in place by the time the manager starts.
“They’re items that aren’t going to go away, even if you keep pushing them to the side,” Collins said.
City officials were pleased with the results of the ad hoc committee and how Collins and city staff plan to address the recommendations.
“There’s so much going on and we are taking it in a very step-by-step fashion,” said Councilman Dr. Allan Yung. “Very organized.”
Councilman Steve Talt praised the patience of the community advisers in helping the city develop a game plan. He acknowledged that many of the changes would “push the envelope” but is confident they will take hold when implemented.
“Once the habit is changed, then it becomes standard,” he said.
The full report of changes can be found in the April 28 agenda packet on the city’s website.

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