Monday, December 14, 2015
Joplin city manager provides weekly update
Good afternoon, everyone. Please see below for this week’s update.
-On Tuesday, I attended a meeting with representatives from Missouri Southern, DJA, and College Heights Church to discuss ways that MSSU and the community can partner together on various projects and initiatives.
-Later that afternoon I met with Chamber President Rob O’Brian to discuss the progress on the projects included in their monthly report, which I’ve attached for your review. We also spoke about some of the retail initiatives taking place.
-I finished the afternoon working with staff on our travel policy and a review of our program inventory sheet for the city manager’s office.
-On Wednesday, I took a tour of various parks facilities with Director Garrie and Assistant Director Bloomberg. We discussed some of the parks department’s plans and goals, an update to the parks master plan, and the pending parks department reorganization (more on that in the “In the Pipeline” section below).
-On Thursday, at Councilman Scearce’s invitation, I attended his daily coffee group to answer questions about whatever was on the group’s mind. We discussed recovery projects, the 20th Street overpass, potholes, our new budget process, and several other items as well.
-Earlier today I met with Taylor Brown, a candidate for council, to provide information and answer questions he had about several topics. It is not uncommon for candidates to reach out to city managers or administrators to discuss city issues and the organization prior to the election, but my goal is to remain impartial and transparent with these types of meetings, so I wanted to keep you informed. In light of this meeting, I reached out to a colleague for advice and as a result of that conversation, I will be developing a more formal candidate orientation in order to provide information to potential council members, and I will be reaching out to the other candidates after the filing period closes to schedule these meetings.
-As part of my regular meetings with department heads, this morning Court Administrator Lamonte Ratcliff and I discussed the idea of adjusting the hours at the courts division. Beginning February 1st, we are going to adjust the hours that we will be open to receive payments to 8:30-4:30, Monday through Friday. Incidentally, these hours are also the same that the Jasper County courts offices hold, so while it will be an adjustment to our courts customers, I believe the transition will go smoothly. We will message this change to the public in the weeks leading up to February in order to minimize the confusion, but I wanted to make you aware of the change as well.
-Earlier this week we had some issues with our aging phone system that resulted in our public works building being without phone access for almost two days. Along with several other capital items, a replacement phone system was cut from this year’s budget, but we continue to spend an inordinate amount of staff time dealing with a costly, outdated phone system. As a result, I have asked our IT director to focus on a plan to replace the system early next calendar year, but we will be doing an evaluation of possible savings in our monthly phone expenses if we change to an IP-based system rather than the analog system we are currently using. More information to come as it becomes available.
-Earlier this week my office was informed of some continued traffic congestion issues around Joplin High School. Our police and public works departments have started researching the issue to develop a plan to alleviate some of the congestion. Options could include redirecting traffic, adjusting the timer on the streetlight at the intersection of 20th & Indiana, or some other alternative that we haven’t come up with yet. The closure of 20th Street for the construction of the overpass doesn’t help matters much, but we will be doing what we can to ease the headaches that parents and students are feeling, especially in the afternoon after school lets out. We will keep you and district officials informed as we move forward.
-Starting on Monday, we will have a new employee from the Experience Works program begin service at our front desk/information center at City Hall. You may recall that with some of the security measures we implemented at city hall earlier this year, we have begun having someone at the front desk in the lobby greet/sign in visitors, answer phones, etc. I’d like to commend our HR department for working with the Experience Works program administrators to deliver this service to the public.
In the Pipeline
-Next week we have scheduled a personnel board meeting to review organization changes to our parks & recreation department. This information will be coming to you at the first meeting in January for review and approval, as some of the changes will include new titles that will necessitate an update to our current pay plan. The parks board has already reviewed and approved the proposed changes, and the next step in the process is the personnel board. After the personnel board’s review and prior to the meeting in January, staff and I will work to provide you with information to allow you to prepare for the discussion during the regular council meeting in January.