With five department head slots unfilled, the topic of discussion at the first of two strategic planning sessions held by the Enterprise City Council was what to do about that situation.
At the strategic planning work session held Nov. 19 the council talked about each of the current vacancies and the current organizational chart structure.
“Is this the time to set the reset button?” Council President Turner Townsend asked fellow councilmembers. “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. Is there a happy medium? That’s why we scheduled this meeting.”
Payroll figures, the current organizational structure to include the department head vacancies and a proposed organizational chart restructure were topics of conversation during the hour and one half meeting held at the police department training room in Enterprise City Hall.
Townsend said he had worked with the city’s human resources director to gather the information with names of specific personnel redacted. “I don’t want this to be about individual people, I want it to be about seats and numbers.
“This is about the structure and is it right for the city,” Townsend 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?”
First term Councilman Greg Padgett asked how the city of Enterprise salaries compared to those in same- sized cities. Townsend said that a salary survey is an issue that the council has in its ultimate plan.
Department head positions currently being filled on an interim status are the clerk/treasurer, public works, engineering and police chief. The vacant communication director position is not being filled by an interim but those duties have been disseminated between other employees. “These are five vacancies that are part of the mayor’s core team,” Townsend said.
“The mayor is the city’s chief executive officer and chief operation 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,” Townsend said.
Noting that the city government of Enterprise is not a “city manager form of government,” Townsend suggest that with some 330 employees, the city has grown to the size that hiring a professional city administrator could be considered.
“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,” Townsend said.
“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.”
Townsend distributed a proposed organization chart for the council to consider which showed a city administrator who reports to the mayor. The chief financial officer, police, fire, city public works engineer, tourism and Main Street and parks and recreation directors fall directly under the city administrator.
“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,” Townsend said. “That’s including all city owned property and infrastructure. 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.”
Townsend said that the exact title of that person is not in place but that it should be someone with subject matter expertise. “We’ve got a very complex infrastructure and you need somebody managing those cross functional issues,” he said.
Townsend said that the engineering person would work with the city’s consulting engineering firms and would serve in a liaison capacity to the mayor and council.
Padgett suggested that the city also consider hiring an economic development person who focuses on the city’s specific interests. He said that a number of cities operate with a specific economic development person who is located in a central office building with the chamber of commerce, tourism and Main Street directors. Housed in a single facility and working in close proximity, those directors could “take that vision and go full blast with it.”
While not deciding on a specific title for the person who would serve in the capacity of city administrator or public works engineer, the council agreed on the general concept. No official voting is authorized at council work sessions.
“I think we need to take it under consideration and move with it,” said Enterprise Mayor William Cooper.
A second strategic planning work session was held Tuesday, Nov. 24.