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City Council talks department head vacancies

City Council talks department head vacancies

The Enterprise City Council has used the last several strategic planning meetings to discuss the five unfilled department head positions, as well as payroll figures and a proposed organizational chart.

Council President Turner Townsend asked the council if it was time to “press the reset button.”

“With five major vacancies, we have a good opportunity now to look at the existing organizational chart and see where are we today, where we want to be and to determine a path from here to there,” he said. “Is there a happy medium?”

Townsend said he worked with the city’s human resources department to gather information with names of specific personnel redacted to avoid having the structure built around individual people instead of seats and numbers.

“This is about the structure and if it’s right for the city,” he said. “Hypothetically, if we were starting a city with a population of 30,000 and a $40 million budget, would we organize the personnel structure the way it is now?”

Councilman Greg Padgett asked how the City of Enterprise salaries compared to those in same-sized cities, and Townsend said that a salary survey is an issue that the council has in its ultimate plan.

The department head positions currently being filled by an interim director are clerk/treasurer, public works, engineering and police chief. Multiple employees are currently sharing responsibilities that a communications director would perform in the absence of an interim head. Townsend said these vacancies are a core part of the mayor’s team.

“The mayor is the city’s Chief Executive Officer and Chief Operating Officer by state law,” Townsend said. “The mayor should be the chief visionary of the city, in lock step with the council. The council’s major responsibility is policy, and the mayor helps us drive that policy.”

An idea that has been thrown around before, he said the city has grown to a size that should have them considering hiring a professional city administrator to help manage its 330 employees.

“With the amount of physical plant in the city, I personally think it’s time we hired a professional engineer to manage the physical plant of the city. That’s including all city owned property and infrastructure,” Townsend said. I think we’re to that point when you look and the hundreds of millions of dollars that we have as assets as a city.

“Most organizations have a ‘right hand man’ to deal with the day-to-day communication across the organization, a person whose focus is resolving cross-functional issues and barriers. Elected officials come and go, and you want continuity in the operation. You want a balance between a completely politically run organization and a completely bureaucratic one.”

In his proposed organizational chart, Townsend outlined a city administrator who reports to the mayor with the Chief Financial Officer, police and fire departments, City Public Works Engineer, Tourism, Main Street and Parks and Recreation reporting to the city administrator. He also suggested that the engineering person work with the city’s consulting engineering firms and serve in a liaison capacity to the mayor and council.

Padgett said they should also consider hiring an economic development representative who focuses on the city’s specific interests, citing that a number of cities operate with a representative housed in a central building with the Main Street director, Chamber of Commerce and Tourism director for easier collaboration.

The mayor and council were in consensus on the general concept of a city administrator or public works engineer, but could not vote on the matter as official voting is not authorized to take place at work sessions.

The next Enterprise City Council meeting takes place today, Tuesday, at noon at City Hall. Another strategic planning meeting is scheduled for Dec. 7 at 5 p.m. in the police training room at City Hall.

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