Monday, October 26, 2015

Joplin city manager provides weekly update to City Council

(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, HR Director Allgood and I met with staff in the city manager’s office to get an update on the status of our volunteer program. AtCM Brian Kelly, Neighborhood Services Supervisor Stephen Grindle, and Nathan Ervin, one of our interns in the city manager’s office, have been putting together information, meeting with departments to identify potential volunteer opportunities, etc. to develop the new program. I am pleased with the progress they have made so far.

-Later that morning, several supervisors and department heads participated in a webinar with Jon Johnson from the Center for Priority Based Budgeting, to begin developing our program inventories, which identify all of the programs that are offered by departments at the city. We anticipate this part of the process will take three or four weeks to complete.

-On Wednesday, AtCM Kelly, Public Information Officer Lynn Onstot, and I had a conference call with the city manager and community development director from Kalamazoo, Michigan, to discuss the public engagement piece of priority-based budgeting. They are still in Year One of their PBB roll-out, but they were willing to share their ideas and lessons learned when they engaged their residents in the process of developing the results they wanted to achieve as a community. We took away some valuable information that we will incorporate into our process when we look to identify our results/priorities we hope to achieve with city services.

-On Thursday, I met with staff to review our progress on the policies and procedures identified in the state audit as well as others, for needed updates. Most of the research has been completed and draft policies for many of the topics have been or are being developed.

-Earlier this afternoon, I met with several employees to talk about ways to continue to engage our workforce. We conducted an employee engagement survey over the course of about two weeks, and nearly 140 employees completed the survey, which closed earlier this week. Preliminary results show that we have some room to make improvements in some areas, but we will be developing plans to use the information gathered from those surveys and put them into action. One takeaway I had from the survey was that the level of employee satisfaction/engagement within departments is pretty good, but engagement between departments could be improved.


-A few updates from Public Works:

* PW has begun the fall/winter road crack sealing program. The area bounded by Main on the west, St. Louis on the East, 15th on the South and Hwy 171 on the north with be the subject of this effort. We will have two crews working this area and it will be a project that will last until approximately April 1, 2016.

*The crack sealing program is a preventive maintenance program that seals the road surface in an effort to prevent water from getting into the subgrade of the roadbed. Water is the element that starts the development of potholes as a result of the freeze/thaw action through the winter months.

*We’ve had a run on “sink holes” developing under our streets. We’ve had five develop over the past few weeks, three of which are repaired. Our crews are currently working on one on Murphy just south of 5th (adjacent to Ewert Park) and it should be repaired by the end of this week unless something unexpected is discovered during the repair process. The other one still to be repaired is on 15th at Wisconsin. This one has several natural gas lines running through it and requires the gas company to be on site to stabilize their lines before any repair work can begin. We are told they intend to be on site next week. Additionally, not all of these incidents are “sinkholes”; some are the result of settlement of the subgrade from construction activities years ago, others could be related to past mining operations and others could be sinkholes.

*We are in the process of suspending the work on Zora (Main to Range Line) for the winter. We will be wrapping up the utility relocation work around the Thanksgiving timeline and with that work out of the way, we will stop work for the winter, until April 1, 2016, when we will gear back up to complete the street widening portion of the project. This will eliminate having the community deal with both winter and construction activities on this major corridor at the same time. The contractor will be providing some temporary seeding to help stabilize the disturbed areas in compliance with our MS4 permit. o Street crews are back working on the ride-ability issues on Main Street – we are approximately 80% complete with that work. The intersections are very problematic and will be the last thing we attempt to deal with, if we do anything at all, as they need to be completely rebuilt (which is scheduled to be done as part of the CDBG-DR program in 2016-2017). But we don’t have the equipment to do that level of repair, so our efforts will be to try and make an interim improvement of some kind.

*We have placed into service a new sludge press at the Shoal Creek WWTP. This new piece of equipment will produce a drier sludge thus reducing the amount of fluid being hauled to the farm fields, which in turn will reduce our operating cost of disposing of the sludge.

_In other public works news, the Request for Proposals (RFP) for Residential Solid Waste Services will go out next week. Attached to this update is a summary of the RFP for your review, should you get asked questions by the public. Likewise, if you have any questions, please let me know. I would like to commend several city employees for putting the RFP together, including Nick Heatherly, Lynden Lawson, Mary Anne Phillips, Tony Robyn, and Leslie Haase, with a huge assist from our city attorneys along the way. The key addition to the RFP is a voluntary curbside recycling component, which would allow those residents who would like curbside recycling service to be able to pay for it.

-The bid for the construction of the new library is also publicly available. We will have a mandatory pre-bid conference on November 3rd, with the bid closing scheduled for November 23rd .

In the Pipeline

-Next Thursday, our inaugural Citizens Academy class will have their graduation ceremony. Our planning department will be giving their presentation from 6-7:30, followed by graduation with cake and punch. Please join us if you would like to attend. The feedback we have gotten from the participants has been very positive, and we will certainly continue to offer the class at least on an annual basis.

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