In my last memo to council and the City Manager’s Blog, I discussed the critical importance of “volunteerism” to the city and the community. Obviously, nothing has changed since then and my desire, as well as many others, is that awareness was expanded. At the very least, the memo initiated more discussion amongst the caring, insightful, and visionary citizens of our community to consider what their role may be in the future growth and character of the city.
Another issue that lies beneath the surface of local government is the “management of local government” or more to the point, the issue of city management professionals. The profession as a whole has seen a dramatic reduction of trained personnel over the last many years due in part, but not exclusively, to the “baby boomers” retiring. But a more critical aspect is the diminishing number of young people enrolling in public administration programs that emphasize government management. Many young adults are seeking graduate degrees emphasizing “non-profit” organizations, which will ultimately lead them to work for organizations such as Amnesty International, Children’s Defense Fund, NAACP, American Red Cross, United Way, and Easter Seals, to name but a few with hundreds more available. All genuinely important, but it creates a certain neglect on the governmental side.
The potential problem of a dwindling attraction to governmental or public management is that without competent and well-trained individuals studying public management, there is a shrinking pool of talent who will oversee and direct the operations of local governments such as the City of Coopersville. The depth of quality candidates for local governments around the state will be – and already is - critically shallow. Obviously, this has the potential of influencing how core services are administered, the cost efficacy of administering those services, and the overall level of quality of those services. There is a direct link between the level of competency of city staff and leadership to the services being provided.
Last week, I attended the reception and retirement dinner of Kent County Administrator Daryl Delabbio. Why is that event of any significance to this discussion? It’s important to me because when I decided to change careers from the private sector to the public sector in city management, Mr. Delabbio took an interest in my career goal. He opened doors for me so that I could gain experience and more importantly to become familiar with the lifestyle; the late nights, partnering with incredible people, having the opportunity to make a difference in the context of the community’s goals. He showed by example what a passionate governmental leader could accomplish. Ultimately, he made me proud of being a city manager; he made me proud of the profession as a whole. Obviously, I received my Master’s Degree in Public Administration due to my efforts, but I was deeply influenced by Daryl and hundreds more.
Daryl’s retirement prompted me to raise the discussion here, both in this memo and in Coopersville. Believe me, the talent gap is occurring around the state as local governments, regardless of population size, begin managing the evitable sea change that will occur when the two forces of boomer retirement and a missing talent pool knock at their door. We all know that it’s far better to be proactive than reactive to trending events. When you’re reacting, you’re doomed to fall short of excellence.
City management is a very rewarding career. Even with its demanding goals, tight budgets, variable stakeholders with conflicting expectations, the profession grows you and unexpectedly showers you with many professional and personal rewards. So, if you know of someone that is contemplating either a career change or contemplating what degree to pursue, the answer may be closer than they think.
Monday night’s council meeting looks at this time to be a short meeting. We have a couple of items requiring action. Please have a delightful review of this packet and we’ll see each other Monday night. Be safe out there!
In your Council Packet, Council Information, there is information on the 2017 Hazard Mitigation Plan for Ottawa and Kent Counties created by Ottawa County Sheriff Department, Homeland Security, FEMA, and a number of local municipalities. A link to the full document (47MB) can be found here: https://www.accesskent.com/Sheriff/pdfs/GGRHazMitPlan_2017.pdf. Due to the size, we cannot email it. However, you can read online or download/print from the above link. Please review within the next two weeks as we will be taking action at our July 24, 2017 council meeting. Once adopted, physical copies will be distributed to each city location and electronic copes to each Supervisor. Please contact me if you require additional information or have any questions.
Water Project Phase I
The goal of applying for a grant from the EDA (Economic Development Administration) will not be achieved. We were unable to obtain critical data from a business here in Coopersville to satisfy the requirements of the application. We will pursue option “B” and provide more detailed information to you within thirty days or sooner. As always please contact me if you required further detail.
Muskegon Waste Water Treatment Plant Option
Nothing new to report at this time other than we have a meeting scheduled for next week Wednesday July 12 with all appropriate parties. Plus, there has been a $2.5 million grant allocated for this project from the State of Michigan. As new information becomes available, and is shareable, I will keep members of this council. Please contact me if you have comments or require answers to questions.
REPEAT - Master Plan Update: Jonathan Seyferth
We are nearing the end of feedback window on the draft master plan which has been ongoing since mid-February. The end of the feedback window back in March started a timeline that, if all goes according to plan, should allow the master plan to be considered for final adoption in July.
The timeline is as follows:
- July 17 – The Planning Commission would hold a Public Hearing on formal adoption of the master plan – step one in a two-step adoption process. If approved by the PC, it is sent to the City Council for final adoption.
- July 24 – At the second City Council meeting in July, the City Council will be asked to take the second step in the process with a final adoption of the master plan.
A draft and executive summary of the Master Plan can be found at www.plancoopersville.com. Updates and comments on the final draft will also be accepted on the website.