Updated: Aug 19, 2021
Several years into my career as a Program Manager in electronics contract manufacturing, I changed companies and was the first PM they had hired from outside their organization. My new employer had undergone a change from manufacturing only their own products to also manufacturing other companies' products.
My first task was to get to know their process and then provide feedback to our executive team after a month or so. During my evaluation, it became very clear that the work being done was not being done by the right positions and therefore was not being done efficiently. Without boring you with the details (though I'm happy to expand if you would like to meet up), we added an administrative position to take over and specialize in certain tasks and moved other tasks (like quoting labor) to the process experts on the shop floor.
By making these simple, yet very effective changes, the Program Management team was able to handle more customers and focus on new product introductions and strategic activities with those customers.
So, how does this fit in to being Liberty Lake's Mayor? Let me count the ways....
1. Additions and changes to the city staff -
In the past, the City's Finance Director was not only doing the job of Finance Director, but he also had all of the HR and IT duties. When people have too much on their plate, they are not efficient and they tend to burn out. Mayor Brickner started by adding the City's first IT technician, Todd Henderson, in 2020 and our first HR Manager (Heidi Workman) started in January. Sadly, RJ Stevenson left his position as Finance Director, but not before helping to hire and train his replacement, Kyle Dixon who I hired away from the City of Palouse.
Adding Todd has allowed us to concentrate on getting up to date on technology. We moved O365 to the cloud earlier this year and are working on the longer term IT strategic plan.
Heidi has been immersed in re-writing the personnel manual which has not seen an overhaul this big since I have been with the City (11+ years). She is also navigating new territory for the City as we now have over 50 full time employees. Things change a lot when that milestone is crossed.
With IT and HR off the Finance Director's plate, Kyle is focused on guidance for using American Rescue Plan funds, financing the rebuild of the Trailhead building, a program to digitize paperwork (which will free up space in City Hall for more offices), and maintaining the City's financial success as we manage these large infrastructure projects
Another new addition to the team is Phil Messick, Project Manager. Can you imagine having so many projects in the pipeline that you don't have staff to manage them? Phil came on board mid-year and quickly jumped in to manage projects like our new Flashing Pedestrian Beacons which freed up Ben Schmidt, City Engineer, to concentrate on bigger projects like the Harvard Road bridge expansion and the Kramer Parkway overpass.
Recently, the council approved changing an unstaffed part time Accounting Tech to full time and recruitments are underway. This will move the processing of invoices & payroll to their proper place and will consolidate the purchasing and grant writing functions.
For 2022, the budget that I present to the council for consideration will also include a part time (possibly full time) Community Engagement Officer and a Facilities Manager.
The Community Engagement Officer will develop, implement and manage the City's communications program to enhance two-way communication between the City's and its residents through printed publications as well as manage the City's website and social media presence.
The addition of a Facilities Manager will centralize the functions of maintaining and overseeing buildings and equipment. This person will be responsible for monitoring the safety and cleanliness, performing routing maintenance on facilities, scheduling routine inspections and emergency repairs, maintaining day-to-day operations of facilities, and managing the long term sustainability of the facilities.
2. Managing being Mayor and having a full time job -
The position of Mayor of Liberty Lake is not set up to be a full time position. During the 2019 Salary Commission interviews, even former Mayor Peterson said he spends "between 60 and 80" hours a month. For 11 years, I spent, on average, 50 hours a month on my duties as a council member. That included official meetings, prep for meetings, manning the Farmer's Market booth almost every Saturday from mid-May to mid-October, attending conferences & trainings (I earned both my Certificate of Municipal Leadership and my Advanced Certificate of Municipal Leadership from the Association of Washington Cities), and meeting with residents in person or via phone calls. Since January, as your Mayor, I have successfully managed spending an average of 72.9 (updated on 8/11/2021 from 67) hours of meetings each month - this does not include separate time with staff, prep for meetings, responding to emails, engaging with the community, and other ad hoc activities.
First, the City Staff is amazing! They are professionals who do not need micro-managing. As "CEO", I focus on big picture and strategic items while they take care of the daily detail as the professionals they are.
Second, I am very fortunate to have the support of the executive team at my employer, TierPoint. There are several letters of recommendations from them in the Endorsements section of this site. If I didn't have this support, I would never have sought to be appointed to this seat in January.
Third, my other outside duties are minimal these days. My husband is fully supportive, and our son is out of the house working and attending EWU. People ask me what I do for fun.......my answer is "Being your Mayor IS fun!". I am at my best when I am representing YOU!