December 31, 2009
Happy New Year!
As we close out 2009 and look forward to a new year ahead, there are several very important milestones we've reached as a city and some other general information I would like to share with each of you. We have grown as a city, and as I sit here today typing this letter I am pleased to share the transition to our model of more self performance is complete. In the following sections, I would like to update you on that transition, the new city staff and our fundamental staff vision for 2010.
Tonight at midnight, while many will be celebrating the dawn of a new year, Milton will be embarking on a new year of self performance. My hat is off to CH2Mhill, Inc, for their commitment to the City of Milton, their tremendous staff and all the many ways that they have made our city what it is today. In fact, almost all of that excellent staff will continue to serve the city - those details to follow. When we began to study what was the best direction for the City of Milton, we looked at more than finances - even though that was one of the driving factors behind the transition. We looked at service delivery and efficiency, we looked at the desires of the Mayor and Council, and we looked at feasibility. We created "dummy budgets", had them evaluated by known professionals in the field, then checked, double checked and checked again - and ultimately made the decision the transition was in the best interest of the city.
The transition was a daunting task - one that came with many headaches, many late nights and many tough conversations. It wasn't a fun process, but it was tremendously rewarding. One of the most exciting things about the process was finding good people. Your new city staff is amazing. Almost all of the staff serving Milton through CH2Mhill was retained by the city - not because they were forced to, but because the wanted to. We did our best to make sure each of the employees was made whole professionally and financially during the transition. The formula we used to calculate compensation was to ask each CH2Mhill employee who was remaining to submit a pay stub. We calculated their annual salary and rounded it up to the nearest thousand. This was a way we could remain within budget, keep employees whole financially and still come in within market standards because of the elimination of both overhead and profit in the salary multiplier. Long story short: great talant, great institutional knowledge, great brains - all with a new energized commitment to the City of Milton and saving more than half a million dollars on staffing alone. As with every situation, there was one unique instance where the market and the needs of the city drove the decision. But with the exception of that employee, who wasn't hired into a comparable position to that which she held with CH2Mhill, the city worked to keep her whole as well. The staff was well taken of, and I am proud of each and every one of them.
We continue as a staff to evaluate the best way to deliver labor services and components of the Public Works department. As you know, we passed several interim transaction contracts late in December to keep the level of service consistant after the beginning of the year. We are evaluating other methods of a public / private partnership, as well as the opportunities which may exist to regionalize some of these functions.
The beginning of the year marks the first time ever the city has a full time Parks and Recreation director. Our new director, Cyndee Bonacci, comes from the City of Snellville, where she was director and responsible for all the parks and recreation functions, as well as all the special event planning and coordination. This is another example of where our diligence in recruiting good people will help streamline our operations. Our city just isn't big enough to have a bunch of people, each doing a small piece of the operations - we are a city where each person's talents must be distributed among many different functions. We've often heard the term "fat government" - this is one thing the Mayor and council were very opposed to and a concept we observed in every hiring decision.
In our form of government, the Mayor and Council generate the vision of the city, and the staff delivers on that vision. To that end, as a staff, we will certainly push forward on their vision. But, as a staff, we do have one vision for 2010: To have more of our citizens understand exactly what we are here for each and every day - to serve you. Sometimes in the absence of information, the information that surfaces takes on a mind of its own and a direction which is altogether opposite to realty. My vision for 2010 is for many of you to visit us at City Hall and meet your new staff as the public servants and people they really are. Normally, I'd ask you to just give us a call or schedule an appointment and we'd be happy to show you around and answer questions. This year, I'm not going to do that...what I am going to do is to ask you to just show up unannounced. Anyone can put on a show knowing its scheduled - but our service to the City of Milton isn't on a stage, and it's not a show. Nothing we do here in this building, or in the city for that matter, is an act - it's your business and we'd like to show it to you. When you arrive at City Hall during business hours, if I am available, I will happily meet with you and would be even happier to take you around City Hall, answer your questions and introduce you to the staff. If I am not here or otherwise unavailable, one of our department heads will do exactly the same thing. For 2010, I simply encourage you to come see for yourself how your city operates.
In closing, as we end this year of accomplishments - we reflect on them only for a day. Next year is here - let's get on with it. Happy New Year!
Christopher J. Lagerbloom