How Many City Managers Does it Take to Screw in a Light Bulb?
05/08/2016 Editorial by Renee Wilkins
Those of us who scrutinize the city budget have one question on our minds — how many city managers does it take to screw in a light bulb?
It is becoming clear that government is growing under the tenure of this city manager. But we’re not getting the extra road crews to repair roads or control the weeds. Nope. We’re getting more managers.
To paraphrase Councilor Everett’s recent defense of the city manager’s actions, apparently the workers need more managers to make sure they are staying on task. But who makes sure the managers are staying on task? Well, that’s our job I guess, since some on our elected governing body are too busy playing pattycake with city staff.
In January 2015, the city manager tested the waters by adding the new position of deputy city manager. He also promoted the communications officer to assistant city manager; then hired a new communications manager. He moved another employee into the position of business relations/CVB manager, which also included a pay raise.
With no serious resistance from the governing body, his recommended FY17 budget reveals that he is hiring another new administrative assistant. Between the promotions and new positions, the city manager’s office will include over $525,000 in salaries and benefits — that’s without the raise he is recommending for all employees. How generous of him.
Not surprisingly, several weeks ago the governing body approved his recommendation to split the Public Works Department in two. The words “go forth and multiply” rang in my ears as they created yet another department head with a big, fat management salary. As the city manager grows his network at City Hall, think about how just one department-head salary could pay for a three-man road crew, or two new police cars every year.
The mayor’s response to the city manager’s recommended budget held no real criticism, other than that the mayor wants his own travel pay increased by $4,000, and he wants to pay a facilitator to lead another governing body retreat costing $5,000 — expensive interpretation to the voters approving the mayoral duty to “convene and lead” an annual meeting of the governing body to discuss and identify the city’s goals.
With so many managers and assistants and facilitators, what is left for the mayor and city manager to do? Well, they network and sell their propaganda. Networking helps solidify their place in the community, but does not necessarily help the community. The mayor also expressed his support for the fifth water rate increase in two years, revealing a disconnect with the members of his community — and a lack of restraint with taxpayer dollars.
While the utilities fund is on course to grow fatter than the general fund, and water use is actually down 28 percent, get ready for the sales pitch on why we need tens to hundreds of millions in high-tech water and sewer infrastructure to justify the rate increase.
All these managers at city hall, and what do we have to show for it? In a nutshell — increased spending and more people to sell it.
Follow up this article with our city budget video series on Facebook/GetRealRioRancho.