A Job Description that Needs to Be Updated

by Mark Hyde

Unlike the federal government where policy decisions are made, such as whether to go to war, whether to enter into an international treaty, etc., local government is mostly, if not all, about paving roads, providing water, picking up trash, providing police and fire services, dealing with waste water (properly) and so forth.  So implementation at the local level is really important.  

Putting implementation in the hands of a professional manager is the best way to proceed, in my view.  That is why we have business schools, for instance, because business is a science in many respects.  Leaving implementation in the hands of an elected mayor is not prudent, in my view, and the results we see here on Maui bear this out.  For instance, while our general and community plans are supposed to be updated every 10 years, it took over 20 to update the general plan and most community plans are approaching 20 years of age.  I am not content with this level of performance.  Nor do I accept an administration that refused to abide by the county charter/constitution - by not issuing annual updates on progress toward our plans. In most places, violation of a community charter is a serious matter.  Apparently here it is not.    

Here is the criteria in our charter for becoming mayor and taking charge of a $700,000,000 operation: be a citizen of the United States, be able to vote, and live in Hawaii for a year prior to election. Compare this to the job descriptions for city and county managers. Below is the job description for the city manager of Del Mar, California, population 4,500.  You will note that it is quite more inquiring than that in our charter.  Of course, our charter allows the mayor to hire an aide known as a Managing Director to help him out.  Because he is a political appointee, and because his job is totally dependent on the success of an elected mayor, he is a political being, with his primary customer being the elected mayor, not the people.  Here is what he is quoted as saying in the Maui News (he was recorded) a few months back (Maui News, October 11, 2015, “Damage Control": “Ultimately, what Rod [Antone] is saying is that our primary goal above all else is to get the mayor re-elected.  Nothing else really matters because if the mayor is not re-elected none of us have jobs. Let’s be very frank.  We’re all political.  We are very connected to the mayor.  If he loses, we lose.”  

That’s not the kind of local government I want, but I respect the right of others to want it.  

Look what the City of Rock Hill, population half of ours (http://www.cityofrockhill.com), and see the kind of transparency and accountability a city with professional management of operations can provide, and compare that to Maui County where we have almost no visibility into county government.  The mayor directs us to the 800+ page budget instead.  BTW, look at the mayor’s goals in the budget.  They are largely secretarial.  Policy is absent entirely.  

CITY OF DEL MAR

Date Approved: 7/1/2000

GENERAL PURPOSE

JOB DESCRIPTION City Manager

Under general policy guidance from the City Council, plans, organizes, integrates, fiscally controls, directs, administers, reviews and evaluates the activities, operations, programs and services of the City of Del Mar; serves as the top appointed executive in the City, responsible for carrying out the polices and programs determined by the elected City Council; ensures development and execution of the municipality’s strategic plan and two-year budget; ensures City government operations and functions effectively serve the needs of Del Mar residents and other stakeholders, while complying with applicable laws and regulations; and performs related duties as assigned by the City Council.

DISTINGUISHING CHARACTERISTICS

The incumbent of this class is appointed by the City Council and serves as the chief executive of Del Mar’s municipal government.

ESSENTIAL DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES

The duties listed below are intended only as illustrations of the various types of work that may be performed. The omission of specific statements of duties does not exclude them from the position if the work is similar, related or a logical assignment to this class.

Plans, organizes, controls, integrates and evaluates the work of all City departments to ensure that operations and services comply with the policies and direction set by the City Council and with all applicable laws and regulations; with the City’s management team, develops and recommends adoption of the biannual budget and other business, infrastructure and resource plans; directs the development of the capital improvement plan budget for approval by the Council; monitors the implementation of adopted budgets.

Plans and evaluates management staff performance; establishes performance requirements and personal development targets; regularly monitors performance and provides coaching for performance improvement and development; provides compensation and other rewards to recognize performance; takes disciplinary action, up to and including termination, to address performance deficiencies, in accordance with the City’s personnel rules and policies.

Provides leadership and works with the management team to develop and retain highly competent, public-service oriented staff through selection, compensation, training and day-to-day management practices that support the City’s mission, operating plans and objectives.

Assesses community and citizen needs and ensures objectives and priorities are focused on meeting those needs effectively, efficiently, and with high-quality municipal services; directs development and implementation of initiatives for service quality improvement; provides day-to-day leadership and works with the City’s management team to ensure a high-performance, service-oriented work environment consistent with sound management principles.

Works closely with the City Council, a variety of public, private and community organizations and citizens groups in developing and implementing programs to achieve City priorities and solve community problems; directs and coordinates preparation of analyses and recommendations on public policy issues and on long-range plans for City services; develops and coordinates proposals for action on current and future City needs; represents the City and works closely with appointed boards, committees, and public and private officials to achieve planned action and results.

Develops Council meeting agenda with Mayor; attends and participates in all City Council meetings.

Interprets City Council instructions and requests; makes interpretations of City ordinances, codes and applicable laws and regulations to ensure compliance.

Directs and oversees the preparation of a wide variety of reports and presentations for the City Council, citizen committees and outside agencies; oversees the preparation of press releases and materials for dissemination to the media and the public; maintains effective relationships with the media.

Directs and oversees the creation and maintenance of comprehensive, effective human resource management programs, policies and systems consistent with the City Council’s guidance; directs and monitors the City’s labor negotiations and labor relations programs and initiatives; directs the improvement of management systems, processes and measurement techniques to improve City operations and effectiveness.

Participates in regional, state and national meetings and conferences to stay abreast of trends and technology related to municipal programs and operations.

Participates in professional and community organizations on behalf of the City and as part of the City’s public affairs program; maintains good working relationships with key community constituencies.

Provides personal leadership for projects and programs that are highly sensitive, political or controversial.

DESIRED MINIMUM QUALIFICATIONS Knowledge of:

Theory, principles, practices and techniques of organization design and development, long-range planning, public administration, public financing, municipal budgeting, financial administration, program and policy formulation, purchasing and maintenance of public records; applicable state and federal laws and regulations governing the administration and operations of a municipal agency; City functions and associated management, financial and public policy issues; organization and functions of an elected City Council; the Brown Act and other regulations governing the conduct of public meetings; principles and practices of public personnel management and labor management relations; the City’s personnel rules and policies; social, political and environmental issues influencing program development and administration in a California coastal community; principles and practices of effective leadership and management; principals and practices of sound business communications; techniques of effective public relations.

Ability to:

Plan, integrate and direct a broad range of complex municipal services and programs; define complex public policy, management and operational issues; perform complex analyses and research, evaluate alternatives and develop sound conclusions and recommendations; present proposals and recommendations clearly and logically in public meetings; understand, interpret, explain and apply city, state and federal laws and regulations governing the conduct of City operations; evaluate, develop and implement management systems, policies and controls; exercise expert, independent judgment within general policy guidelines; prepare clear, concise and comprehensive correspondence, reports and other written materials; establish and maintain effective working relationships with the City Council, all levels of City management, other governmental officials, community and civic organizations, employee organizations, employees, the media and the public; exercise tact and diplomacy in dealing with highly sensitive political, public policy, community and employee issues and situations.

Training and Experience:

A typical way of obtaining the knowledge, skills and abilities outlined above is graduation from a four-year college or university with a major in public or business administration, or a closely related field; and at least ten years of progressively responsible experience in the management and administration of a municipal government; or an equivalent combination of training and experience.

PHYSICAL AND MENTAL DEMANDS

The physical and mental demands described here are representative of those that must be met by employees to successfully perform the essential functions of this class. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.

Physical Demands

While performing the duties of this class, an employee is regularly required to sit; talk or hear, in person, in meetings and by telephone; use hands to finger, handle, feel or operate standard office equipment; and reach with hands and arms. The employee is frequently required to walk and stand.

Specific vision abilities required by this job include close vision and the ability to adjust focus.

Mental Demands

While performing the duties of this class, the employee is regularly required to use written and oral communication skills; read and interpret complex data, information and documents; analyze and solve problems; observe and interpret situations; use math and mathematical reasoning; learn and apply new information or skills; perform highly detailed work on multiple, concurrent tasks with constant interruptions; work under intensive deadlines and interact with the City Council, City management, public and private officials, City staff, civic and community groups, media representatives, and the public.

WORK ENVIRONMENT

The work environment characteristics described here are representative of those an employee encounters while performing the essential functions of this class. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.

The employee works under typical office conditions, and the noise level is usually quiet.