City Council Candidate Question of the Week: Week 6 – Manager priorities
Each week through the primary, The Breeze will ask the candidates for Cape Coral City Council an issue-related question. In the interest of fairness, each candidate is limited to the same amount of space, about 100 words, for their response.
This week’s question is: What should be the new city manager’s first course of business?
The new city manager’s first course of business should be assessing the city’s current condition so he can make sure he fully understands the current and future needs of the city. This should be a complete assessment from the underlying city budget, staffing needs of the city, physical assets, and the infrastructure needs of the city. The city manager will need to plan for what the ongoing growth will require from the city especially around traffic management, hospital beds, and making sure the city has the infrastructure for commercial development. This will be key to keep our city’s quality of life intact.
Culture is important and developing a service first environment is key. During his interview, Mr. Hernandez, our incoming city manager said, “We are in the service delivery business, face it,” and “The first priority is to adopt a service-first mentality.” I fully support this approach as Cape Coral has unfortunately been viewed as a difficult place for residents and business owners to work with. Improving this begins with leadership providing a vision where roadblocks are minimized, and our city staff is inspired to deliver an outstanding experience for the people of Cape Coral.
The City Manager should meet with the council members individually to learn their vision and thoughts. Then meet with council as a whole for projects in process as well as future goals for the city. Also go over the strategic plan to see if any changes are wanted or needed. Be educated on any upcoming financial shortfalls that will need immediate attention. Finally he needs to meet with his staff to be educated on how they operated in the past and what responsibilities each of them had so he can direct them properly for the cities future.
The course of action DEMANDS: MORE INFRASTRUCTURE NOW! stop KICKING the master plan further out.
Commercial business will come given we have places ready to build. This will reduce the horrendous tax burden on the residents. Let’s keep it in the Cape!
7 Islands have sat empty since 2012, academic Village and major parcels like the Dry Lakes off Burnt Store are prime locations that we the residents have paid for have sat vacant even longer. Staff seems to be happy with the low hanging fruit.
Charge senior staff with producing rather than recounting all the reasons that it cannot get done.
Besides meeting with each of the department heads, his primary focus should be on the budget. Although the proposed budget is in the hands of council members, he will be taking over at a time when all budget details are being discussed and revised before it is approved in September after several workshops and two public hearings. Although the current city manager has recommended keeping the millage rate the same at 6.4903, I believe council will look at taking it to the roll back rate of 6.2497, which will mean about $3.8 million less in revenue, so he will need to manage where cuts may need to be made to non-essential services or not filling some staff positions.
Onboarding into this top position involves both process and subject matter priorities. Process includes developing rapport and earning trust and confidence of the city organization, Council and most importantly, the citizens. Time invested in listening, learning and communicating will set the stage for success. Since transparency, professional conduct and competency are essential to effectiveness and currently points of sensitivity on local and national matters, early impressions matter. Obviously, getting up to speed on the budget, fiscal effectiveness, project priorities, etc. (i.e, “basic blocking/tackling”) are important, but items expected to have been proactively absorbed before beginning.
Bottom line, technical competency is expected. It is the soft skills that demonstrate integrity and will indelibly establish his ability to lead the city.
Jessica Cosden, incumbent
The new city manager’s first day falls right in the middle of budget season, with two budget workshops planned during his first two weeks. The budget is one of our most important guiding documents as a city. On day one, Mr. Hernandez will need to take a deep dive into the proposed fiscal year 2021 budget, meeting with department heads and finance staff to understand each and every expenditure, revenue source, and debt. I expect that he will scrutinize the budget line by line, and he may even make changes to the recommendations made by the outgoing city manager.
My first order of business is to go over the budget.
Fiscal responsibility needs to be adhered to first and foremost. After listening to citizens around the city it has become very clear that spending our individual tax dollars on projects that aren’t necessary is creating a burden on the home owners and businesses. We need to stop wasteful spending and start working on solutions to reduce taxes, residential fees, and reduce costs.
Raising taxes is the wrong approach. Creating jobs and bringing businesses back into Cape Coral is the answer. A growing city of our size will stand to benefit the most from bringing in developers that can develop in an economic and environmentally friendly way. However our city policies must be updated to reduce the “red tape” of getting businesses up and running. This can be done and I would like to work with the city manager on this immediately.
Dr. Derrick Donnell
As his first course of business, Mr. Hernandez should:
1) Meet with each council member to gain an understanding of their expectations.
2) Meet with the current city manager to establish a transition plan and receive any information that continues to move our city forward.
3) Meet with the administrative heads of all departments to introduce himself, hear any concerns, and set expectations.
4) Take the opportunity to meet all employees, introduce himself, and assess employee morale.
5) Host an online chat session to introduce himself to the community and entertain questions.
District 5 (General Election ballot)
Louis C. Navarra
A budget audit so we can see where the tax dollars are being spent i.e. revenue being spent on Coral Oaks, etc. wasteful projects. Budget audit of Cape Police Dept. i.e. revenue from traffic citations, taking squad cars home which we have seen at various locations. Thirty eight years with school district we drove our own cars to work. No other state or city employee takes company owned cars home. SUMMED UP: CITY MANAGER SET CITY GOALS FOR PRUDENT SPENDING OF TAXPAYERS DOLLARS.
The new city manager should meet with all the department heads review the budget, and look for ways to save the city money. He should familiarize himself with Cape Coral and prepare to meet the new council members in November.