As part of its goal to re-organize the operations of city hall and create a more productive and responsive government, Mayor Mike Bawden and members of the City Council are considering the costs and benefits of expanding the hours of operation from 3 to 5 days a week and then staffing accordingly.
“We’ve been talking about doing this since August, when (then City Clerk) Ron Fullerlove left to take the County Administrator’s job in Henry County, IL,” explained the mayor. “Then, when (City Administrator) Tim Long took an early retirement, it became really clear that we needed to make some fundamental changes with the way we were structured and operating.”
The mayor pointed out that the City’s General Funds surplus is currently more than adequate to cover any additional costs incurred by adding the days to Interim Administrator Lisa Kotter’s current work schedule (taking her from 20-40 hours per week) for the remainder of the current fiscal year. Additional costs for a full-time City Administrator and Deputy/Administrative Assistant would be built into the FY21 budget. But the benefits of “increasing the City’s bandwidth” by adding more hours and capabilities to the City’s staff are, in his opinion, worth every penny.
“If we want high-performing people in positions like City Administrator, we need to be able to compete with other cities from a salary and benefits basis – and while we’re never going to be offering big-city money, we stand no chance of even getting consideration from a prospective employee if we can’t offer a full-time position,” explained Mayor Bawden.
Are staff changes imminent with a shift from 3-days to 5-days? According to the mayor, probably.
“I don’t think the fact that we’ll be looking at everything we do and everybody who’s doing it will come as a shock to anyone – residents and staff, alike,” explained the mayor. “But we’re going to take our time and figure this out carefully. The end goal here is to get the City to be more efficient and more responsive for residents – and an important part of that is making sure we’re using every employee’s talents to the max. That means taking the things they don’t do well off their plate and replacing it with work where they can add considerable value to the City.”
Does that mean change? According to the mayor: definitely. “Things will be done differently, and that requires change,” said Mayor Bawden. “But that change may just mean a change in focus and re-alignment of hours. It may mean working on special projects that have languished for a while.”
“Whatever shape that change comes in, it means staff will need to be flexible and willing to go with the change. And that may be tough in the short-run. We’ll just have to see how things go.”
“The one thing we know,” he concluded, “Is that not changing is not an option.”