Separate the jobs
With the recent resignation of our city administrator, our mayor finds himself at a very important crossroads. A decision will need to be made about whether to hire one or two individuals to fill key administrative/operations positions. Back in 2016-17, the former mayor embarked on an experiment to move toward a city manager, rather than city administrator, style of government by combining two critical and unique positions; the city administrator, who administered city staff and general operations for the city and the department of utilities administrator/manager, who administered the city’s power plant business operations.
Although very different skillsets are required in these two positions, efficiency and cost savings were touted as the rationale for this consolidation experiment. When initiated, the person selected only had utility-side operational training/experience; the requisite city-side general administrative experience/skillsets were lacking, requiring after-the-fact education and on-the-job training.
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After consolidating the two key positions and the combining of the two salaries into one exorbitantly high salary, an assistant city administrator position was subsequently added. This resulted in the city effectively paying for three employees instead of two. This would not turn out to be a savings.
With the resignation of the experimental/consolidated city administrator position, our new mayor now has the opportunity to fix the problems that were created. By reversing course and hiring two individuals with the proper and requisite experience/credentials for each unique job, finding qualified individuals will be easier and that will ensure effective/experienced operation on both sides of the city’s operating governance while creating an opportunity to reduce overall administrative cost.
As a former city council representative, I contend that the separation of the city’s general administration from its power plant operations always did make sense. I’ve also been told that other cities that tried the same consolidation of jobs experiment wisely went back to separate positions. Thus, I hope our mayor sees the wisdom in such a decision and does the same thing. If he does, Fremont will be better served and taxpayer funds will be saved in the process.
Please join me in encouraging our mayor to separate these jobs.