I hope everyone in our community is having a great summer in and around Gig Harbor. It has been a hot summer but luckily, we have the water nearby to cool us off. There have been many events in and around Gig Harbor to enjoy. Whether it is the Summer Concert Series, Movies in the Parks, Farmers Markets or one of many events it has been a joyful place to live and/or visit.
I have been trying to work hard on many changes in the city. I have had to prioritize. I have said that I wanted to evaluate each department to see where they could be fine-tuned. I have also said I wanted to learn how each department was run and understand it prior to making any changes. I have been doing my due diligence prior to being elected and over the past 7 months was able to experience it myself.
Department Changes - I have discussed with Tony “our Interim City Administrator” for several months how the city is structured. Some concerns are how the development review process and staff are structured and the created silos. Most cities have their planning staff and building staff in one department to create consistency, oversight and collaboration.
Along with Tony’s suggestions we propose merging the Planning and Building Department’s into one, with one director. We are also looking at bringing some of the Public Works Department’s development review staff into this new department. This means the Planning Director position will be eliminated, the Building Director position will become a mid-manager position and a new department director position will be created.
This position might be called Community Development Director. This is how our city was structured before the departments split. We plan on conducting an open competitive recruitment process to fill this position, which means both employees and members of the public who are qualified may be considered. This is the reason we waited on Group Three of our planning review, to give time to work on this change first.
My goal is to go slow and get things right the first time, which in the long run is faster. Mistakes are costly, time consuming and embarrassing. These changes will not happen overnight and the transition period may take up to 6 months.
Attorney - Another big change we will be working towards, is to begin the process to find an in-house Attorney. I have no problem with the performance of Wallace, Ogden and Murphy. But everything seems to be a contract and we are a busy city. Having an attorney in-house to be able for staff, council and myself to walk right into their office and get an answer or create/modified a contract right away will save time, money and efficiency. I have spent a lot of time studying this option and talking with other cities that do this. It will be a great change. It will create more efficiency in our court system with our prosecuting attorney too, with some changes there. Our attorney is happy to stay on until this transition is complete.
Budget - I am sitting down with each department head and going through the upcoming budget. We have not had the oversight in recent years that I feel is needed to retain our savings for emergencies or future needs. I ran my election on controlling our costs so there would be less dramatic swings and being good stewards of our funds. We will be working towards this before the budget goes to council, so they see our due diligence.
Lastly, I am very proud of our staff. I feel all our departments are working really hard. They are courteous to our citizens, helpful and I feel are happy.
I also want to say a special thanks to our crew at the Public Works Shop. Our roads and parks look great. Citizens have said we stop using the weed eaters and blowers when they walk by. Great job to all of our city employees!