Some people might call it bad luck. Others might call it dodging a bullet.
It is what it is.
The way events have played out over the last seven to ten days, the City of Riverdale now finds itself back to where it was around Thanksgiving, facing the departure of its head of staff (Interim City Administrator, Lisa Kotter) and evaluating its options for the future. The main difference now, though, is that City leaders have gone through a goal-setting process and reached consensus on some over-arching priorities for our community.
I feel confident in saying that we’re all headed the same, general direction. And while we might have differing points of view on the best way to get there, everyone is listening to each other and to the residents, with the intent of finding the solution that works best.
We’re also further down the budgeting road which helps bring some important issues (like available funds, tax rates, valuations, etc.) into greater focus. That also helps with the decision-making process by eliminating ideas that are not economically feasible.
Side Note: If you have time available at 2pm on Sunday, February 23, please be sure to come to our town hall meeting where I’ll provide an update on our budgeting process in advance of our Max Levy Public Hearing (scheduled on Tuesday, February 25).
Questions About Tuesday’s Closed Session
The City Council went into closed session at Tuesday’s meeting and there were questions as to whether or not that was appropriate.
Although the original intent was to go into closed session to discuss the finer points of an employment agreement with Lisa Kotter (to be our full-time, City Administrator for 24-30 months), it was also to discuss the additional plans for staffing including changing job descriptions and evaluating personnel. The second objective for the session still had to take place (which it did) although no action could be taken in closed session, the Council did agree on a general plan to move forward so we could have a more substantive, public discussion as part of the City Council meeting on February 25th.
We also discussed an offer made by a person known to the City Council to serve as Riverdale’s City Administrator. He requested we not make his name public.
The Plan Forward
The consensus of the City Council was that there were a number of additional options open to the City and that taking the time necessary to find the right staff person/staff personnel at identified wage levels determined during the closed session was the preferred path forward. The Council seemed okay with taking this course, even if it might result in lowering expectations for staff performance in the short-term and pushing some of the objectives outlined during the City’s goal-setting meeting.
Council members are supposed to send me their thoughts on staffing, wages and related items/issues by the end of the day on Friday. I will compile the information and send a summary memo to members of the City Council along with some recommended actions. Depending on how similar the recommendations are between all the Council Members, I may prepare some action items for public discussion as part of our next meeting.
If there are any ideas that are significantly different from what other Council Members are suggesting, I’ll take time to discuss those ideas with the Council Member who offered them in a one-on-one meeting.
The over-all goal, though, is to clearly set some expectations and guidelines for searching and selecting one or two key staff people who will serve the City of Riverdale in a full-time capacity. Our research into this process (including discussions with consultants who specialize in this kind of thing) indicate a typical timeline for a search is 90 days (3 months). Sometimes the search takes less time. Sometimes it takes more.
It is what it is.
And it will be what it will be.