Monday, August 17, 2015

Joplin city manager provides weekly update

(Joplin City Manager Sam Anselm provided the following update to the Joplin City Council Friday.)

Good afternoon, everyone. Please see below for this week’s update.

Key Meetings 

-On Tuesday, I met with community representatives to discuss plans for a “disaster summit” to take place next May, in conjunction with the five-year anniversary of the tornado. The summit would provide an opportunity for communities that have been affected by disasters in recent years, or others who may be interested in listening in, to come together and share experiences and lessons learned. The summit would be held on the campus of MSSU and cover such topics as volunteer management, logistics, working with various partners in federal, state, or local government, etc. during each of the three phases of disaster management – response, recovery, and resiliency. I anticipate that several staff members will be asked to facilitate or present during the event, but I believe it is important for us to play a role as a way to pay it forward to communities that may have to deal with similar challenges in the future. More to come as information develops.

-On Wednesday, planning staff and I met at City Hall with representatives from Carl Junction, Webb City, MoDOT and the Harry S. Truman Coordinating Council to discuss an update to our Long Range Transportation Plan and the transportation needs we see over the next several years. A survey has been developed by the consultant doing the update, which you have received, and we will also post it on our website so our citizens can share their thoughts as well.

-Earlier today (Friday), Assistant to the City Manager Brian Kelly and I met with a student who is interested in working in local government, about doing an internship with the city. As we roll into the priority-based budgeting process, this would afford an excellent learning opportunity for anyone who is interested in a career in local government, to see how we conduct the routine business of serving our community.


-Last week I asked for feedback from our department heads about the idea of doing away with permit parking in our downtown parking lots, and making it free for businesses and residents to use. DJA Executive Director Callie Hudson and I also solicited feedback from downtown residents and business owners, and the general consensus from these groups is that we should try the idea for a year and see how it goes. For small business owners, the annual fee to purchase parking passes for employees could be a potential barrier to opening and operating a business downtown, and residents who eat and shop downtown may be less inclined to stay for longer periods of time if they’re only limited to two-hour parking in the lots. Along with the feedback we received, there also seems to be support for keeping the two-hour limit in place for on-street parking, so that would remain unchanged. Before I make any formal recommendation to you, I want to get your feedback as well. If you would like to send me an email with your thoughts or questions, I can be prepared to bring something to you during a future meeting. The financial impact on the budget will be minimal, and it would free up staff time by not having to administer the program, so I am generally in favor of trying it out.

-In an ongoing effort to be more transparent with government, we have posted a link to the FY 2015-16 proposed budget on our website, under the “Spotlight” section. In years past, this information hasn’t been readily available to the public, so I was happy to see our finance department (with an assist from IT staff) include the information on our website. Earlier this week I shared with you and with employees the proposed budget message, and I intend to have a few employee meetings next week to discuss the budget situation that we face heading into next year. As you are aware, in order to balance the budget several tough choices needed to be made, which include no raises for employees for the second consecutive year, and eliminating nearly all capital purchases from the general, parks, health, and airport funds. Neither of these measures is sustainable, but more information will be provided to you on Monday night during the public hearing for the budget.

-The Route 66 wayfinder signs have been installed, which should mark the completion of the wayfinder sign program installation, with the exception of one that we’re waiting to install on Zora after the road widening project is complete.

In the Pipeline

-There will be several items on the agenda for our council meeting Monday night dealing with the proposed Main Street TIF and CID, employee benefit items, and the proposed FY2016 budget, as I discussed in the previous section of this update. As usual, staff will be present and available to answer questions. We also received a request from Interim Superintendent Dr. Norm Ridder to address the council about the South Main TIF. You are probably aware that earlier this week the school board voted to oppose the Main Street TIF, and they have provided a letter to you stating their reasoning. You should have received that in your council packets.

-The inaugural Joplin Citizens Academy will start on September 3rd, with the first session giving an overview of the city clerk, city attorney, and city manager’s office. We would like extend an invitation to members of council to attend in order for the class can have an opportunity to visit with you; please let me know if you would like to attend so we can make proper arrangements.

-We are fast approaching budget work sessions scheduled to take place September 14-16. Those meetings will be held in the 5th Floor Study at City Hall, times TBA.

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