Back from Manager Camp

Well I return from my annual sojourn to the Annual International City/County Manager Conference. This is part of the required 40 hours of annual training that is required under the Credentialed City Manager program. This year’s conference was in Phoenix, Arizona and approximately 2,500 city manager types gathered to get new information, strategies and ideas while also checking the pulse of what is happening in communities around the country (and world).

One thing I like to do while in towns I haven’t been in is walk around and get a first impression on things everyone loves to know about, you know like infrastructure. How clean are there sidewalks, street trees, pedestrian treatment etc…? I found the downtown Phoenix area to be clean and easy to navigate on foot. There seems to be mostly newer buildings and some good use of traffic calming techniques.

What I found missing was people. Speaking with some locals, they will tell you that you don’t live downtown; you come down to work and then leave. The surrounding area supposedly has people. Great convention center and it is huge, and I like the connectivity of the two building complex. I believe they said 600,000 square feet on two city blocks.

Temperatures were in the mid nineties, a little warm for fall, but some people don’t like the cold so I can see why they would prefer Arizona, but if they don’t like the cool, why do they stay in these air-conditioned buildings and not enjoy being outside? Hmmm…

The best speaker at the conference was Jim Collins (Good to Great fame) as he spoke on his latest book Great by Choice. He also had a great interactive session, which I attended. Samples of other sessions are:

  • Strategic Issues Management: the Council Management Relationship
  • Leading a Culture of Innovation
  • Immigration Reform: Truth, Myths, and Politics
  • From Government to Governance
  • Drafting for High Staff Octane
  • Creating Vision not Division
  • Building and Maintaining Relationships

…and that was before Tuesday.

We also found we are not alone as many states attempt to balance state budgets by not funding services to the local governments that we have to provide (without local revenue sources). A topic that also came across as a big concern was about part-time employees.

No one has figured out how many Human Resources staff we will have to add to implement “Obamacare”. You see if an employee works 30 hours they are to be covered by healthcare coverage (including their children up to 26 years old). Most municipalities have a lot of seasonal workers that help us complete our mission. Some are retirees, some are in college, some do summer work for us and then winter work elsewhere (this is not an editorial on national mandated healthcare). Glad to see we are not the only ones that are challenged with meeting all these unintended consequences. Some communities are looking at doubling their part-time work force to meet the new standards, double the training, not to mention the question of whether or not the available workforce will dwindle if the heavier hours are not available. It was good to see others are wrestling with these things and look forward to follow up on the discussions and solutions.

Now back into the day to day…

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  • Peter Auger, Auburn Hills City Manager

    Peter Auger, Auburn Hills City Manager

    Thoughts on running a city, daily musings, and everything in between.