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SPECIAL MEETING OF THE COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF NOVI
Mayor Landry called the meeting to order at 9:00 a.m.
PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
ROLL CALL: Mayor Landry, Mayor Pro Tem *Capello, Council Members Gatt, Margolis, Mutch, *Nagy, Paul
Mayor Pro Tem Capello arrived at 9:17 a.m.
Member Nagy arrived at 9:37 a.m.
AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION - None
PURPOSE OF SPECIAL MEETING
Interviews for City Manager
Mayor Landry welcomed the candidates, individually, and advised the candidates of the format of the Special Interview. If they chose, they could make a brief statement and comments. Then, Council members would each ask one question at a time. At the end of the interview the candidate would have an opportunity to make a closing comment.
9:00 a.m. - Michael Stampfler
Mr. Stampfler said his opening comments would be brief and that he would defer to Councilís specific questions about him as a candidate. He thought Novi was a lovely City and it was a privilege to be before Council.
Member Paul asked Mr. Stampfler to give her a difficult situation where one of his City Council persons was trying to push something on an agenda, and they were pushing it on him, how did he handle it.
Mr. Stampfler said generally his counsel would be that the item should go before the full body of the Council, and his idea should be presented to them as a whole. If they agreed it should be placed on the agenda for a meeting. He felt, in a Council form of government, he should be independent and let the Council deal with those kinds of issues absent what he wanted to put forward from the staffís perspective. He thought that would keep everyone in an equal position, and no one has favor or difficulty getting their issues addressed.
Member Mutch asked, from his experience, how local government best facilitates economic development in the community.
Mr. Stampfler said economic development for any community trying to make it a positive environment for economic development to happen was best accomplished by an excellent exercise of the authority, and the power that Council has. Not really stretching or overreaching, but doing the things that the community was supposed to do as a City and municipal government very well. The community has within its purview a lot of infrastructure issues that could be done mediocre or extremely well. The community has taxing issues within its scope, generally, and it could choose the level of taxation that they wished to exercise.
Also, social kinds of things that attract people to the community are somewhat within the power of the community itself. He said they could choose to further that or set back with it. Mr. Stampler advocated infrastructure in an excellent fashion, and a taxation policy that invites rather than drives people away. After that, it was a matter of quality over all, location, etc. He felt that other people had things to offer for economic success and good relations with the people around you, County people, etc. are needed.
Member Margolis asked Mr. Stampfler to describe an ideal process for a Council and City to go through to set long term goals, and what he saw the relationship and division of responsibilities between the Manager and the Council. Also, what was the closest to the ideal that he had been able to accomplish?
Mr. Stampfler said one of the strengths he had in Portage was the goal setting process. He thought it helped every one stay on the same page. He commented he was in Portage for 20 years, and for 19 years the process was in effect and it got smoother and smoother each year. He wrote an article about goal setting for Public Management Magazine in November of 2005. The key part was to start early enough to involve the different segments that should be involved. It would start in the early fall and involve three basic elements to get ready to go to the Council. They are a citizen survey, which would be a random digit dial survey of a statistically valid number of residents on a variety of questions. There were usually about 45 standard questions and then 15 more that would be topical of that year to find out what people thought, and how they evaluated what was Council was doing. He said he always had the survey conducted by Western Michigan University so it was removed from municipal government. While that was going on, the advisory boards of the City were invited to send in their formal report about what they thought were the priorities, from their perspective, for the upcoming year. Also, the administration would prepare a listing of what they thought were the priorities for the coming year. When those three parts were completed then they would be taken to the Council in a goal setting retreat for a day and a half and overnight. The Council would review those three key pieces of information, and put their interpretation and their individual goals as Council members to that. He said what came out of it were the goals for the City. After those goals were set by the Council they were given to the administration to fashion a budget that would reflect those goals. Then, three or four months later, the administration would come forward and present the budget to Council for their review as to whether it translated the goals the Council set. Then through the year as the budget was enacted and expended there would be quarterly reports to the Council as to what progress was being made. There would be reports monthly in the newsletter that went out to the community and there would be an annual report to the community.
Member Gatt asked Mr. Stampfler what he knew about the City of Novi, what he saw as the critical challenges facing Novi, and what personal and professional qualifications did he have to suggest that he would succeed as Noviís next City Manager.
Mr. Stampfler responded that he was not a scholar on Novi. He said several years ago there was a staff exchange between Novi and Portage, and he had an opportunity to view the
different facilities the community had at that time. He said of major interest to him was the functioning of the volunteer fire department. Portage has a combination fire department so they were always in difficulty as to whether they could sustain it. They looked to Novi as a kind of model regarding how their fire department functioned. He said they had enjoyed viewing what had been done in the community, great parks and recreational opportunities, and a
forward looking community that wanted to excel. He said Novi had the same problems as most Michigan communities with the revenue sharing issues with the State of Michigan, and that would continue as long as the State had difficulties, and felt that would be for quite some time. Mr. Stampfler said municipalities had to be ahead of the curve as much as possible in terms of revenue generation, expense control, and Council had to make sure they knew how to make those adjustments before it was time to make them. He thought he would be excellent for Novi because it was similar to Portage, and the degree to which a community exceeds its expectations had a lot to do with the Council thatís in office. The Manager could reflect what the Council wanted to do in the community, he could suggest certain things, but it was really a reflection of what the Council believed could be achieved in the future. So, when going through the goal setting session, those were the ways that a Manager would bring out what it was that the Council wanted to see for Novi in the future. Then it was a matter of executing those and he didnít think Council would find a better person to execute their goals than him.
Mayor Landry commented that Mr. Stampfler had been in public administration for 30 years, and asked why he would want to be the City Manager of Novi.
Mr. Stampfler said because he thought Novi was poised to exceed and excel and that was the kind of organization he wanted to work for.
Mayor Pro Tem Capello asked how he would focus on economic development to solicit new businesses, and to maintain and help current businesses to grow.
Mr. Stampfler said they were always very active in infrastructure development, and would always try to pair with developers in the area who they knew to be excellent developers. He said he would try to work with their projects, and blend in the projects that he wanted to put forward. They were fortunate to have, in the Portage area, several very excellent developers to work with so it worked out really well. Aside from that, the goal was to keep the infrastructure developing ahead of the need so they were inviting economic development and not always behind the eight ball. So in terms of sewer installation or roads, making them boulevards or four lanes, they were always trying to be ahead to accommodate the future development needs. Mr. Stampfler said they were always a part of the countyís Economic Development Plan where there was some insight given by the county as to what was going to be scheduled for the entire country or what was foreseen to happen. Then they really made special efforts to have a Community Development Director who had economic development responsibilities. As a team with him they would try to keep abreast of all that was happening throughout the state, the mid-west and the national scene so they would have an idea of what was happening and what trends were occurring. Then they could pick the trends they wanted to try to accentuate for the community, and avoid the trends that were going down. Mr. Stampfler said the number one job of the City Manager, after the Council, was economic development. His view of it was that it wasnít a specific position that he would pin point and name somebody. The City Manager had to have economic development as the number one goal for the community, because without that there would be no tax base, and without that there would be none of the other services that were supposed to be delivered in a quality way. He said it all falls from keeping your economy to the fullest and most robust that it can be. He commented that the Community Development Director had the principle responsibility for economic development because that was the department that had planning and building services, code inspection, etc. They really made it a team approach and he led the team.
Member Paul asked him to share the last time that a Council person treated a staff person badly and how it was handled.
Mr. Stampfler replied that he had only had generally positive experiences, but other Council people had policed Council people who had treated staff people poorly. He said his counseling had always been to try, if at a public meeting, from a City Managerís chair to interject and help deflect or clarify an issue that might be misunderstood between the two. He said if it was interfering with the process that the staff was using to do the projects they needed to do, he would try to talk with the Council member and suggest other ways that the information could be gathered, or a different goal could be brought before the entire Council. He had been very fortunate that he hadnít noted too many Council people in his career who had actually abused staff members far beyond what was typical in government, and what was expected generally.
Member Mutch asked what role Mr. Stampfler played in developing or maintaining regional level services between the communities he had served and neighboring communities or the region at large.
Mr. Stampfler responded that if looking at any of the press coverage on him in the Kalamazoo Gazette, one of the criticisms would be that he did not play ball enough in the regionalism. He always took exception to that because his number one duty was to the community he worked for. Secondly, he had always wanted to regionalize and lessen the expense of government if it could be proven that the service was going to improve and the cost would be less. Those were always the two criteria he had and then he would be in the ball game. However, unfortunately, for all the efforts in terms of regionalism they are just sort of an idea that people try to run with and they donít research and do the homework. So, it made it difficult because if it was going to be more expensive for the same level of service it was hard to sell. If less expensive and worst service, itís hard to sell. He said the homework had to be done. He would be on certain committees and they couldnít get the homework done, so he wouldnít agree to do it. He said if the record was checked, the first huge success in the area was when he was the Airport Director. It was a municipal airport and was in the City of Kalamazoo. Kalamazoo had a very difficult time running the airport and always had a deficit. He said during the four years he was there he worked to improve and change that, with the Airport Advisory Board backing, to be a county airport, which it is today, and was called the Battle Creek Kalamazoo International Airport. He said that happened during his stewardship, and it was quite a change for the area. It was one excellent example where the homework was done and it really made a difference. The second was during the time he was in Portage. The District Courts were part of the municipal government as far as funding. He worked with the County of Kalamazoo and
they consolidated the District Courts, which are now part of the County of Kalamazoo Court system. The reason he did that was because it was proven that the service would be better, better coordination between all the District Courts, and it would represent a savings to the taxpayers of Portage because the county would then operate the District Court system. He could then go back to the municipality and say it made sense to do that. A third major initiative they were working on when he left was the consolidation of dispatch. There were seven dispatch areas throughout the County of Kalamazoo, and they wanted to do it as one but it was very difficult for them to get the homework done to show why if would be better service and less expense to the taxpayer. It was impossible, but he thought they were getting closer to the point where they could do that. Again, there are a lot of ideas for regionalization but
they had to make sense for the unit that you are working for before saying yes, unless there are directions otherwise.
Member Margolis asked Mr. Stampfler to comment on his experience in how he had managed the performance of employees in this area.
He said part of the idea with the citizen survey was always to get the feedback of the community on an annual basis so they measure if people thought they were making progress or going backwards. There were always questions about citizen service, and even the questions not directly to that point were indirectly related, so they always had that yearly gauge. They also had postcards people could fill out in the lobby about the service they received that day and how it went, what department, etc. Customer service was always a part of what they were trying to do in the staff meetings and part of what they tried to do at the Council meetings as far as reports to do certain things, always with the idea of how it would benefit the taxpayer or the public at large. He thought that message came across very well. The citizenís survey and opinion survey were always in the 80 to 90 percentiles, which were generally accepted as excellent for government, and they were always trying to do better. When they would have road projects, for example, people would get weekly updates from the city as to what was done that week and what would be done the next week so that they had an expectation and benchmark. They would do those kinds of things to make sure they were still in sync with the public, because unless they were in sync with the public they were not in sync with the Council. He always worked hard to do that.
Member Gatt said, to Mr. Stampfler, you are Noviís new City Manager, and you have a long time City employee who was regularly running around you and going to a Council member with issues, how would you deal with it.
Mr. Stampfler said there would always be relations between Council people and staff people. To the extent that the Council allows that there wasnít much a City Manager could do. However, in staff meetings he encouraged people to talk with him, and if the staff member wanted to risk being not in the circle or not taken into confidence, that would be a reaction that a City Manager might make. He thought they had to realize thatís the nature of government, itís open and every citizenís has the right, and there was no law or ability of a City Manager to say they could not speak to a Council person or that a Council person could never call an employee. Hopefully, if he was the City Manager they would establish a relationship that the Council members would be less inclined to encourage that and that the staff member would be desirous of being part of the team. He said it was a difficult issue.
Mayor Landry said in a relatively young city like Novi development was booming. Residential development was happening and some commercial development was occurring. However, sitting back and looking at the community the easy pieces are gone. The flat bare farms are now gone, there are wooded pieces, wet pieces, and commercial pieces that arenít easy to develop. So, a developer proposes a downtown development corridor, and one opinion of that in a burgeoning City was that a downtown wasnít needed, why give up the taxes; people are knocking down our doors
to do it. Why would we need that because downtown development authorities are for old decayed cities; they are not for new cities. Mayor Landry asked for Mr. Stampflerís opinion.
Mr. Stampfler said he instituted a DDA in Portage. Portage had a similar reputation, but for that side of the state Portage had the same impression that it was growing, was dynamic and didnít have a downtown. It needed redevelopment. He said there was a specific section of the town that had declining value, and evidence of that had to be provided for a DDA. It wasnít a huge thing but it was a blot on the landscape. He said they chose to push the issue and make it a DDA, and found a developer that would work with them to achieve his goals and theirs. It emphasized that all components of the community were firing and trying to lift every part of the community. He said if a developer came to Novi and wanted to do a DDA, Council would have to show some decline somewhere in the area, and if that was the case they really wouldnít want decline in the community. So, they would give evidence that it would be a win win kind of thing. He said the analysis could always be carried out to show that at a certain point, even though taxes were forgiven for the first X years, the community would be the winner in the end because the development would provide returns to the community. It just might not be the first year. He said there was also that element for achievement the first year, and thatís the win win with the developer. For example, he said they achieved roads and sewers, which would have taken a lot of their own municipal money to achieve had they not been with a developer with a DDA to get it all done through the project. Itís just a matter of demonstrating to the public that the tax money might not be there the first year but the improvements would be, and the tax money would come later, and the blight would be removed in that section of the community. He thought a DDA, even in a young community that seemed to be growing there was room to demonstrate why a DDA would be positive.
Mayor Pro Tem Capello asked what it was that would bring him from one similar city to another.
Mr. Stampfler said he didnít subscribe to the fact that you had to move up the ladder to a population of 150,000 to progress in your career. He said Novi was a very special place similar to Portage in a lot of ways, but with a little more synergy. He thought if a community wanted to progress and excel it would be a great privilege to be considered.
Member Nagy asked for an example of an instance where he had Council members with hidden agendas. A situation where he was opposed to the idea the majority of Council members had, or some project he was really opposed to. Council was still talking about the project, he could see where their leanings were, and didnít feel it was the right thing for the City. What would he do?
Mr. Stampfler thought the strength of the idea, development and the venting of the idea with the staff had produced a rapport that suggested certain things should be done, and other
things might not be done. He said thatís been presented to the Council and theoretically they have had the opportunity to review it, and for the better judgment of the Council they have other ideas, something that the staff was not totally aware of or privy to. After the staff had the chance to present the case, if the Council still believed a certain project should be done, then that was what would be done to the best of their ability. He said if they get a chance they
put their best foot forward and make their best case. If Council saw it differently thatís the way it would be done.
Member Paul asked if he had ever been involved in a consent judgment, and how did he work that situation.
Mr. Stampfler said they had been involved in a lot of consent judgments. The one he was involved with the most was a referendum on a rezoning issue that the commission had passed at his recommendation, and then the public took up the issue and had a vote on it and overturned the issue. He didnít think it was quite the consent judgment. Consent though, in other matters, not necessarily zoning, but in matters of pollution sites. He said he negotiated the best that he could for the community, and once itís in the courts hands it was more removed, and he would not be able to hold sway completely and would have to seek middle ground.
Member Mutch asked for an example of a project that he had worked on that was successful that required intensive work with State or Federal Officials or Agencies.
Mr. Stampfler said it was a large road Extension project. The community had talked about this east west connector for 20 years before he had come to Portage. It was through an environmentally sensitive area and needed in this growing community as there were only three major access points east and west between the north and south thoroughfares. The citizens didnít want to vote a tax increase to build a road for others to use. A new development came in on the part of the Upjohn Company and there was a taxing mechanism available to take a portion of those funds that would be devoted to all the different units of government, and put those together and build this road. They convinced all the units of government in the area, the community college, school system, the county, and the intermediate school system that they werenít losing tax money they were investing in the development of the community, to pool their new tax money from this new development, part of Upjohn, and allow them to use it to build the road connection. Itís a four lane boulevard and it goes over a river and has all the parks things associated with it underneath it.
Member Margolis asked what his experience, expertise, and knowledge was regarding process improvement and an example of a situation he handled where process improvement was important.
Mr. Stampfler said when he had come to Portage there was a lot of discussion about how poor the planning and building permit processes were. How developers would receive different answers from different departments. He decided on a process where all the major players from the City were together at one time during the week, every week, to review what was going on in every ones department on the issues in front of them. They started a development review team that had one member who was principally responsible from each of the departments working in development kinds of issues. It met every Thursday morning to review what was going on with specific departments, and what difficulties they might be having, and tried to work it out among themselves. Then the developer would have a unified answer from the development review team chairperson. He said that went a long way to make the people of the organization know they were important, and that people were waiting on them. It also made it so they had to give answers and progress reports to the development community and administrators, and it smoothed the process out and made it more functional.
Member Gatt asked how he dealt with dissent and opposition from the public, Council members and city employees.
Mr. Stampfler said he tried to avoid it at all costs, and make sure it wasnít going to happen. He said that was part of the processes that they had with the citizen survey, budget,
etc., so that they seemed to be on the wave length for those important critical issues. There would always be difficulties, flare ups, points that were never considered as an issue but are, and so the goal had to be to work through to the best solution and make sure everyone had the same facts. There would always be dissent on City Council and there wasnít much that could be done with that, but he tried to have ample information for everyone early on in the processes and hoped that everyone read the information. Then if they differed in approach the Manager would do what Council requested as it was their call. Regarding the public, sometimes there are issues that the minority of the public wonít support but it was the Managerís judgment to report to the Council on what would be in the best interest of the overall community. After that it would be up to the Council to decide. His responsibility was to have the best information for the Council, and the public regarding what it was they were trying to do and why, and furnish any requests for further information to make the record complete.
Mayor Landry said Mr. Stampfler spent twenty years in Portage but only one year in Castleberry Florida and asked what happened.
Mr. Stampfler said in Castleberry Florida the community was now on their sixth administration in three years. The reason was there was an ill advised attempt by the municipality to take over Progress Energy, a private utility, and make it part of the municipality. The Progress Energy people were very well healed financially, and much more sophisticated. They beat the City into submission four years ago after millions of dollars had been spent. Not only did they beat the community into submission, but by the financial backing of two of the commissioners, newly elected then because of that financial backing, and because of the brouhaha in the community the City was now stuck with two maverick single issue kinds of candidates. Those two commissioners are very much no votes on any matter of progressive government nature. They are the Progress Energy candidates from a year and a half a go and they saw their duty clearly, and it was to keep the government down. Then there was a swing vote and the Mayor was extremely upset with him because he wanted to control the agenda. It had been his interpretation throughout the year he was there that he had the approval of the agenda before it went out to the commission. Mr. Stampfler said he read the Charter differently and that they couldnít do that because the commission had control of the agenda, they all get it at the same time and if they donít desire to hear a certain matter, they make the decision not to. Or, if they want to request an item for the next agenda they do that together. Mr. Stampfler said that made the Mayor extremely upset and the City attorney agreed with Mr. Stampflerís interpretation as well. So, when it came out on the floor before Council three of them voted for it against the two Progress Energy Candidates. The swing vote came under enormous pressure in subsequent weeks from the Mayor for sort of defecting, being disloyal because he had made her the Vice-Mayor, and she wanted to continue in that capacity for awhile longer. The agenda issue was in February and by April the Mayor had worked enough to get the swing vote and it looked like it was going to be the end of it. Mr. Stampfler said there were three votes that he could count on so he resigned. He said it was unfortunate for the people who wanted the community to progress but there were only two of them and two people who wanted the community to stay the same and one swing vote. He thought that when he interviewed he put too much value in his ability to persuade the swing vote, and trusting one person. It was a life lesson learned and the reason for his short time at Castleberry.
Mayor Pro Tem Capello asked how his Community Development Director oversaw the planning and building, and how that worked.
Mr. Stampfler said it was related in a lot of peopleís minds to economic development, but from his standpoint it wasnít only that, and that was why there was a development review team. It would bring in the people that worked on the roads, and the fire department that did the inspections on water capacity, etc, so they augmented that but nominally the Community Development Director was in charge of economic development at the most.
Member Nagy asked if he became the City Manger of Novi and evaluated the strengths and weaknesses of the organization and found that the right hand didnít know what the left hand was doing, and employee morale was low, how would he assess the organization, and what would he do to build employee morale. Also, what if the City Manager was a person who the administration felt intimidated by and didnít feel like they were able to express their opinions.
Mr. Stampfler said it might take six months or longer to assess whether morale was low. He thought things would be brought to his attention the first week. However, to verify and validate what peopleís perception was, what the reality was, and what was happening behind the scenes it would take a while of observation. He was comfortable making that kind of observation. As far as what he would do about it that would depend on what conclusion he drew out as the root cause. He said there could be so many different issues that he would have to make his assessment as to which ones were important and valid to deal with. Then he would try to rectify that and get everybody up to top speed, and that could take years depending on what the issue was. For instance, in Castleberry, the root cause was the commission and that would not change for several election cycles. He said regarding intimidation, they would want to hire someone with an open door policy, who listens to employees. Also, employee surveys are valuable and confidential and helped the City Manager understand how he was perceived. He thought the job of City Manager was like the staff working for the Manager, but a lot of times itís the City Manager working for the staff to help them succeed. Maybe the Manager had to earn trust by caring enough to help them produce the best project for the public.
Mr. Stampflerís closing comment was that Novi was a lovely community; it would be an honor to work and serve in Novi. He enjoyed the questions and hoped they got an idea of what he was about. He asked the Mayor if the Council was pretty unified in their approach to how Novi would progress or was there the sense that more work was needed to ascertain what the path should be.
Mayor Landry answered that the Council was generally unified, and thought every member of the Council had the absolute best interest of the City in mind. He thought the Council was representative of a cross section of the community. He thought everyone had their own particular preferences as to how the City should develop and what areas of the City they would like to see grow and improve. Mayor Landry was totally convinced that every member of Council had the best interest of the City in mind.
10:00 a.m. - David Dorgan
Mr. Dorgan said he grew up in Central Illinois on a farm. His high school was small so he put himself through the University of Illinois earning bachelors degree in Political Science and then earned a Masters degree in Public Administration. He has a wife and she has a law degree and they have two sons. Mr. Dorgan said they valued the school system, which was of great interest to them when they visited Novi in February to see what Novi was like. He had been a City Manager for most of his working career and had an opportunity to take an early retirement in Elgin and did so. He was now looking for a new team and that was why he was in Novi.
Mayor Pro Tem Capello said at one time Mr. Dorgan had been a Community Development Director. Mr. Dorgan had been in Tinley Park longer than anywhere else and he asked if there was a Community Development Director or its equivalent at Tinley Park, and what role did that employee play and what departments did they supervise.
Mr. Dorgan said when he started he was the Assistant Manager in Tinley Park. The Community Development Director worked for him, as well as the Building Department, the Economic Development area, Planning, Code Enforcement, etc. Community Development supervised many of the planning aspects of the City, supervised $1 million housing rehabilitation grant program and there were activities such as planning new sewers. This was a fast growing community and making sure that all the puzzle pieces fit together was a big part of the community development job.
Member Gatt asked what he knew about Novi past and present, what he saw as the critical challenges facing the City, and what personal and professional qualifications he had that would suggest he would be able to resolve the problems.
Mr. Dorgan said he had been able to help each city he had worked in get to the next level. He was consulting with the City of Aurora through the Chamber of Commerce and helping them figure out many of the things that take place to redevelop their downtown. Those are things he brought to the table. He said, in past experience, he had done a great deal of hands on in everything. He was the kind of Manager who observed things and had done that in Novi. He spent time in Novi talking to employees; he spoke to a firefighter, a Police Sergeant, Police Chief, ladies at the DPW, the City Clerk, etc. He looked at the project map, and had not seen one with that many projects online at one time in any other City he had worked for. His hat was off to the City and all theyíve done. He could see the transportation links that have been made, the infrastructure investment, and investment in human capital. He said he talked with employees, and they didnít tell him about any problems they were experiencing. He thought they were fairly happy; they liked the working conditions they were under and that the City was progressing in many ways. He knew about the name Novi and the number 6 stage coach story of Noviís name. He said he liked the City of Number 6.
Member Mutch asked, based on experience, how could local government facilitate economic development in their community.
Mr. Dorgan said local government had to be in the business of setting the table. He said conditions had to be right and he knew some of that had been done in Novi. He has had to insert some of the governmental authorities to help some of the development take place in the City of Elgin. However, when looking at Novi he saw a City that has done very well. He was
very impressed when he saw the Rock Financial Showplace, it was twice the size of the Tinley Park Convention Center that he was involved in. He was impressed that it brings to the table an asset that Novi could utilize for bringing other things to the City. Those are the types of things you try to put in place, good infrastructure was not to be underestimated, but he also saw a positive attitude of getting things done. The Interstate was good but there are still things to do in terms of making Novi more visible from that aspect. Mr. Dorgan said one thing he noticed was the City Hall didnít say City Hall on it and thought that might be something that should be done in Novi.
Member Margolis said in the supplement information provided he talked about FABWODI (find a better way of doing it), which was where her interest was. She asked about his experience in process improvement, how he approached issues of process redesign, and how he approached FABWODI. She asked for an example of where that had resulted in a change in a City or municipal government.
Mr. Dorgan said FABWODI was a mantra that was put into place in Tinley Park. It was a method to create an atmosphere to solve a problem in such a way that there are no boundaries. For example, they had a building inspector who had a problem with Drivit. He didnít want to allow the material because he felt it didnít wear well and could be a fire hazard because of the way it was installed. Yet, the material was the best to make the exteriors look the way they should look. The inspector got into this, they talked about it, they brought it to staff, and they went through everything they could find out about EIFS and Drivit. At the end of the day they found that if they put it on metal studs, there would be no fire problems. If limited to a certain type of EIFS it would enable the developers to do what they needed to do to make the buildings look right, and if kept off the ground floors, it shouldnít be damaged easily. All of that came from a discussing a product they wanted to say no to, but ended up saying yes to under certain circumstances.
Member Nagy said his planning department was different, and possibly more effective than what was in place in Novi. She asked if he had in house staff or did he rely on consultants, and would he look at that situation to determine whether or not it would be financially feasible to continue in house versus having consultants.
Mr. Dorgan responded that he had worked with both. He had always used consultants to supplement the knowledge, skills and abilities of the Planning Department, because he thought there were times when they needed to have people from outside of the organization look at something. In terms of making Planning and Engineering go together there was no magic bullet to that. It has to be evaluated. He had outside engineering consultants in Tinley Park, and what he liked about that was they were able to utilize a 130 engineer firm. Every aspect of engineering was represented from inside that firm that from water distribution, water collection or storage, streets, etc. He felt they got more from that. In Elgin, there were seven engineers on staff, and the PEís were largely review staff. He didnít think they were as effective as the outside firms because they tended to not have the same ability to reach out and access information they needed.
Member Paul asked him for an example of the last time a Council person treated a staff member badly and how he handled it.
Mr. Dorgan replied itís the City Managerís role to make sure there wasnít staff bashing. He said these people come to work and it was the City Managerís job to take the heat if something was going wrong and to make sure things went right. If Council had a problem with an employee they should bring it to the City Manager. In one case he had a Councilman quoted in the newspaper as saying this person shouldnít run a popsicle stand. He first talked with the Mayor and then they had a conversation with the Council as a whole. The resolution was Council agreed to include in its operating rules that they were not to make comments about individual staff in the newspaper.
Mayor Landry asked what happened in Elgin.
Mr. Dorgan responded that he went there on a 5-2 vote, which he wouldnít do again. There was a lady promoted to State Representative from City Council and she left. There was an election and a gentleman left, shortly after he had arrived, that had voted for him, and a lady died in office. The City Council could not vote to replace her after her death, so the City Council itself had a dynamic that was hard to manage. He did not end up working for the City Council that hired him.
Mayor Pro Tem Capello asked what his greatest success was at Tinley Park in bringing the community some type of a project.
Mr. Dorgan said they had done a number of things, but one that was a standout was the new metro station, which was probably the best metro station on the metro line. In Tinley Park, one of the things they had was an old train station in the main area of the older downtown. It was a source of contention because the station was dysfunctional. In order to make the greatest impact on the downtown, the City agreed to put $1 million into the commuter train station. He said they were able to supplement that with $2 million of metro money and brought in another $2 million by applying for a state grant. They put in a $5 million station for the community. This was an arts and crafts station made out of stone with a slate roof; it had wood inside that most country clubs would envy. The reason it was an important community development effort was because it centered the downtown as a focal point. Once that was in place, restaurants did very well, property values increased, and a new plaza and movie theater are planned. He said things feed off it, and it did help redevelop the downtown area.
Member Gatt asked for an example of a quick decision he had to make under pressure.
Mr. Dorgan said one of the hardest things in city management was personnel issues. There was a case where it was brought to his attention that a person working for the DPW had rode around in his truck for the entire day and had not done a single thing for the City. Mr. Dorgan said he never hesitated; he brought him in and told him based on his way of operating and his past employment history he needed to leave and not come back. He was a union employee and the union was present, he appealed and he lost. He said if Council talked with the attorney in Elgin they would find that making decisions was not one of his problems.
Member Mutch asked what he thought were the greatest challenges facing local governments within the next 5 to 10 years would be.
Mr. Dorgan said it was always a question of revenues, and he knew that Michigan had some forecast for downturn in the economy so the revenue issues would be primary. He commented
he was always looking to get OGM (other governmentís money). He tried to supplement what they were going to do, and tried to make do with less when possible, while at the same time that becomes harder and harder, but there are ways to do it more effectively. He found it interesting that Novi had both full time and paid on call fire personal. In his past history, one of the things he found that made the Village of Tinley Park very effective was its 110 member paid on call firefighters. In Richton Park there were 50 paid on call firefighters. He said that helped keep personnel costs in control, and they tried to make sure those people were treated fairly and their operations ran smoothly. The operative thing here was that money doesnít grow on trees, and you have to constantly look for sources of opportunities to increase the tax base of the community, and he had done a lot of that.
Member Margolis asked him to describe what he thought was the ideal process for a City Manger and a Council to work together to set long range priorities and goals. She asked for an example of how close he had gotten to that ideal process, and how he went about doing that.
Mr. Dorgan said ideal process was a big challenge. He said he had worked with goal setting retreats in every City he had gone into. In Elgin there were three retreats in his first year. In Richton Park they did a goal setting that was the most effective thing that village did in many years. They looked at everything from whether they wanted to do street sweeping on a more regular basis all the way to how they wanted to look at their tax rate. It took three Saturdays and also involved the Planning Commission, Parks & Recreation Commission, etc. The most effective process was when the most people could be involved, get the most input, and bring it into an operation so that the City could be focused in the way the community wanted to go.
Member Nagy asked him how he balanced economic development with the environmental needs of the City.
Mr. Dorgan said he had done a lot of that. One of the things he noticed about Novi was there were a lot of wetlands. He said Novi also has a fen and Elgin has 3 fens, which are about water flow, etc. Elgin had gone through a large development phase and one of the first things he had done when he became Manager was to contract with an environmental group called Core Lands. He wanted them to look at how they were doing integrating wetlands, stream development impact, and linking greenways because it was important so habitat strings from one place to the other and to emphasize the recreational aspects. Novi has a lot of green areas and many have no access to them. He thought Council would be impressed with the concepts put onto the Elgin plan in terms using land to obtain 40% open space in subdivisions by changing some of the density areas.
Member Paul asked what his biggest mistake as a City Manager was and what he did about it.
Mr. Dorgan responded that in the Village of Richton Park the Water Fund hadnít been paying for things it was getting from the City. They werenít paying a share of the City Hall or the City Hall utilities. He changed that formula and about three years into the adoption of the formula they found that there was a $400,000 hole in the Water Fund. He had to go to the Council and advise them he made a mistake, it wasnít working out well, and it was necessary to look at water rates. He said the formula was based on stronger water usage and when that went
Down, the amount of money being taken from the Water Fund wasnít reduced. He said that was a sizable mistake and the one that bothered him the most. The lesson he learned was to go back and check the numbers even if they were done by other people who were highly professional.
Member Landry asked why, after a career in Illinois, he wanted to be the City Manager for Novi.
Mr. Dorgan said he didnít want to leave Illinois, but since he took a retirement he couldnít work in Illinois under the Municipal Retirement System. He took a retirement because it was in the best interests of his family. He was looking at Novi and Michigan because he was a Midwesterner and he saw a lot of the same qualities and the same types of values that he values in Novi and in Michigan. Also, he thought Novi was a highly professional organization, and looked like they had the Steven Covey seven habits of success working. His main goal was to work for an organization like Novi that was professional and really wanted to do something. A reporter once defined him as being "uncle like" because he doesnít meet many strangers. He meets everyone on the same plane whether a firefighter or police chief.
Mayor Pro Tem Capello asked about his wifeís law degree, being licensed in Illinois and would the whole family be moving with him.
Mr. Dorgan said his wifeís law degree was from Germany and there was no reciprocity so she didnít practice law here. He said she had not worked in 10 years, they adopted their sons about 12 years ago and that had been her job, and they would be coming to Novi as a family.
Member Gatt asked him to describe any aspect of his personal conduct that may positively or negatively reflect him.
Mr. Dorgan responded that what you see is what you get. He had an EOC complaint that followed him last week from the City of Elgin, a reverse discrimination suit, but he found out before coming to Novi that he was no longer a party to that case.
Member Mutch asked what role he had played in developing or maintaining regional services between the community and the neighboring communities or at a larger regional level.
Mr. Dorgan replied that he had done a lot of work with regional organizations. Tinley Park, for example, got their water from Chicago by way of Oak Lawn. Tinley Park went to the next level to provide water to two other communities, which was something that was initiated and worked on by City Managers in those communities. Dispatch centers were something he had taken an interest in. In Richton Park three communities went together to try to form a dispatch center, they were all on the same frequency, it made perfect sense and at the last minute a community pulled out for political reasons. Twenty years later they put that organization back together and did exactly what they had tried to do when he was the Village Manager in Richton Park. He said it works and he thought dispatching was one of those critical public safety areas that cannot be overlooked. He looked at the Novi dispatch center and saw fairly good up to date equipment in there. Dispatchers are sometimes the under valued members of the police department but he didnít sense that in our organization and he was pleased to see that. He thought when services could be combined with other municipalities, it should be done.
Member Margolis said Noviís budget numbers are lean and mean as opposed to other cities of similar size. How would this impact him coming from a more open budgeting process and what did he think the impact would be.
Mr. Dorgan said he didnít consider Elgin to be lean and mean. He said it was one of his tasks to make it leaner. He said during his first three weeks in office he laid off 13 non-union employees. He saw that there were excess employees doing the job and evaluated that quickly because they were headed to a $2.2 million deficit by years end if they didnít change the way they were operating. He took a situation and turned it into a positive, and by the end of the year they had a million dollars positive cash flow over what the projection had been. He said Elginís numbers are much higher because there is $25 million worth of riverboat money in there that Novi doesnít have. He said Tinley Park was very comparable to Novi in size and fire stations. They have the least amount of full time employees of any municipality in the south west suburbs. They have increased the number of employees since he left and that was one of their sighs of relief because they felt they were being pushed a little too far by him to do more with less. He said he worked hard and expected people that work for him to do the same.
Member Nagy said sometimes she felt a boost in morale might be needed within the administration, and asked how with the staffs experience with past City Mangerís, would he help to boost their morale and make them feel they could trust him.
Mr. Dorgan said being forthright and trusting was the key from the clerks who have to deal with the people from the very start to the union negotiations. Trust was a key factor and he liked to instill that trust and confidence as he moved through things. He said it was important to meet as many people as possible and try to know them as individuals as well as employees, and know what they do, why they do it, and how they do it. When that didnít work, there are times when people needed to move on. He said in Elgin the union had not had a settlement in their contract without going to arbitration in almost twenty years. He said the first weeks he was there there was a pay raise opener and the union wanted 6%, he went back and evaluated what could be paid and what was fair and offered 4%. The union said no and they went to arbitration and got 4%. The next time they came in to negotiate he told them why he thought his offer would be a fair salary and laid out all of the numbers, and this was why he could pay them what he could. They voted their contract for the first time.
Member Paul asked how he rewarded and inspired an employee that was doing really well. When an employee was not doing well how would he take measures to move along and what would the process be of working with someone and possibly firing them.
Mr. Dorgan believed in evaluating employees. The employees must know whatís expected from them, and its managementís role to make sure they know. In Richton Park he took 1% of the raise and made it on a merit system, and it worked for one year. He said he had a public works union that following year because merit pay didnít work in a municipal setting the way that the union thought it should. The minute he said to someone that they were doing a better job and would receive ĺ% of a percent of raise versus a 1/2 % they didnít like that. He learned that merit had to be done through evaluation not through pay. Mr. Dorgan said if there was a problem with an employee there needed to be documentation of not performing, probation could be used, and administrative leave. When he had to let someone go in department head
cases he would put people on administrative leave, have a meeting with the Council and give them his plan so they would understand what he was doing with the individual, and then if the plan could not be followed they would move to where they had to go.
Mayor Landry said one of the main issues that the Council would have in the next few years was union contracts. He knew Mr. Dorgan was aware of the general state of the economy, rise in health care, the move in industry from defined benefit to defined contribution pension plans, and Council was dealing with the many unions in Novi now over these issues. He said there are a lot of human factors involved; people are being asked to make contributions in areas that they were not asked to in many years, etc. He asked how he would advise the City to deal with those issues and what his style would be in dealing with those kinds of labor negotiations.
Mr. Dorgan replied he had dealt with those issues, and could say pensions are a problem in every state. He said in Elgin employees were paying 7.5% and 8% of their health care. In Tinley Park if employees worked 20 years, at retirement they would get half of their health care paid. He said they had to be sensitive and recognize they were taking money out of employee pockets but employees must realize health care was rising at an unprecedented rate and that the City was paying more. The short answer was it had to be dealt with in a fair and equitable manner.
Mr. Dorganís questions to Council
Mr. Dorgan said he hoped Council had a feel for who he was and how he operated. He said he liked looking for opportunities and bringing cities to the next level. He asked Council if he were to ask them their vision for the City of Novi and what would take it to the next level what would that be.
Mayor Landry said the City had 53,000 residents and expected to be 75,000 to 80,000 at build out. Novi is in a wonderful location, at the confluence of three separate interstate freeways, 30 minutes from an international airport, and have an international flavor with Asian, Japanese and German companies headquartered here. We have a fairly large Asian and East Indian population and are tied to automotive industry. However, population was moving west in Oakland County and we are competing with surrounding municipalities for development. He believed the vision of this City was to build out as best possible to service the residents, and so that the infrastructure and tax base was sufficient to afford the services the residents and business residents expect from Novi. We need to make sure families can grow and retire here and this place is important to be maintained as a home town.
Mr. Dorgan asked if Novi saw itself as a regional leader. Mayor Landry answered that Novi was in Oakland County and they have a separate government with a very dynamic leader, L. Brooks Patterson. Oakland County has taken the lead and we have Automation Alley where they are taking the lead on trying to be one of the leaders in the nation in wireless internet access to attract international businesses. Historically, in this area of the State and region, it is very heavily automobile and manufacture based. All of those secondary businesses serve the automobile industry and Novi has a number of them in the City. We would like to take their place in regional development but are not leading the charge.
Closing Statement - Mr. Dorgan said his last comment was he liked Novi.
11:00 a.m. - Julian Suso
Mr. Suso said his wife, Stephanie, came with him as they had always operated as a team. He had spent some time driving the City on Friday, and was impressed with the quality of the community. It was obvious there was a shared vision here, a lot of time was spent in planning, and there was a lot of pride in the community and it showed. He was a City Manager in Mentor Ohio, a fairly new suburb that had explosive growth in the 80s and 90ís. He was there for 16 years and left in January this year. Mr. Suso said he had been married 30 years and had two sons. He had a degree from Ohio State. He complimented the community for spending a lot of time in appreciation of natural resources and general quality of life. Mr. Slavin asked him to prepare additional comments in writing as well as his resume, which includes his view on management and some of the things he had been involved in.
Member Nagy asked what he thought about having multiple health carriers versus a PPO and an HMO. There are five carriers in Novi; would it be a benefit to have only two.
Mr. Suso said it was an issue debated during his tenure in Mentor. They traditionally had three carriers and reduced it to two this year. As the group size increased, frequently you get a better unit price for similar medical services. He said if there are too many carriers none of the individual group sizes are large enough to take advantage of some of those economies of scale. A careful balance was needed for some choice for employees but also directing it in a way to be most cost effective, and they found it tended to be closer to two or three. He said the amount the employees contributed changed too. Each time they were in the collective bargaining process they addressed the health care costs. He took pride in a continuing partnership with each bargaining unit in health care containment costs. Each year there was a modest increase in the monthly premium co-pay as well as the cost for prescriptions, doctorís office visits. They had been able to keep a cap on that recognizing that if they donít all share in the burden of managing that cost itís going to spiral out of control and then bad things will happen. He said having a process in place to maintain those costs was important.
Member Mutch said Ohio and Michigan face the same economic challenges and asked what he saw as the biggest challenges facing local government in the next 5 to 10 years.
Mr. Suso responded that universally the challenge would be to manage at a time of flat or diminishing resources. One has to be very creative and work as a team to innovate, at a time like that, to make certain the basic services are maintained. When discretionary revenue was there they had to realize that they had to invest in areas that were not depreciable assets. Invest in land, buildings, and infrastructure in the community that would pay dividends over time. He believed that the coming 5 to10 years would be a time for everyone to manage with less. Tax revenues are not endless and the answer to everything was not to ask for more from the taxpayers, because they are also on budgets, etc. Therein lays the challenge to maintain significant quality of basic services at a time when the pot of dollars available was going to diminish. How do you keep up roads, traffic management, land use challenges, etc. He said the City was a maturing community with a vibrant and exciting future, but the reality was that the revenues would increasingly be capped and Council would have to get much better at doing what they are doing now. He thought the answer was to work with the team, the professionals, department heads, and have an excellent budget. That kind of participatory
process was the key ingredient to serve residents and their needs. If the management tools are there and if they can identify the revenues, itís a great time to encourage creativity with the management staff that Novi already has. Itís also a time for state and federal government partnerships.
Mayor Pro Tem Capello asked how, at Mentor, were the planning department, building department and EDC departments organized administratively and personnel wise to address new projects.
Mr. Suso replied the whole development team, Building, Engineering and Planning responded collectively and as a team. The department heads had the leadership, professionalism, and camaraderie to function as a team. He set up an internal task force that had all of the key department heads and personnel involved in the development process, which included the Chief Building Official and his team, the City Engineer, the Planning and Development Director and if necessary the Economic Development people. Also included would be Public Works, and in Mentor they had the Police and Fire Chief involved for the public safety review. They met every three weeks and had a shared agenda to discuss common problems, how to assist each other, what the time table was, etc. Another approach was to have a key department head overseeing all those functions and insuring that they move forward. He said in Mentor he served as a part of that team, he convened it and made certain there was a timely, coordinated response in all area. He said this method was very successful for him.
Member Gatt said at times, the City Manager must make a quick decision under intense pressure, and asked for an example of this situation while he was City Manager.
Mr. Suso replied that in Mentor, there was significant lakefront property on Lake Erie, but very little public access. There were 450 acres including a natural area and a significant marina. The 450 acres went into receivership, and the City, in partnership with Council, convened a management team to move forward and identify strategies to acquire the property. This was in a receivership that was overseen by a bankruptcy court, and the court appointed receiver felt the greatest return for those involved would be if the property went to a high density development rather than being acquired by the public. Then they condemned the property with eminent domain, and he was sued personally in Federal Court as Manager along with members of Council. They were convinced they had made the right decision on behalf of the public and it was a very difficult time. Eventually, it ended up being placed on the ballot to try and overturn the eminent domain process, and residents voted by a 56% margin to affirm the action that they had taken for eminent domain. The end of the story was they acquired that asset, financed it with a bond issue, which was paid off internally with existing revenues. One of the keys to that was that they had to develop a public marina and a natural preserve, and they did. Internal revenues generated enough to pay off half the debt service payment for the entire $16 million acquisition. The voters won and this endeavor was wildly successful; itís a green marina with a boat slip and an area for picnicking. They developed a trail system that was a northern point on the Appalachian Trail, and they received an award from the Ohio Lake Erie Commission. They were the only government in Ohio to ever receive a reward from that commission.
Member Margolis said her interest was in goal setting and asked what he saw as the ideal process for Council and a City Manager to work together on strategic planning,
and how close had he gotten to an ideal process. Also, how he saw the role of City Manager versus the City Council in that process.
Mr. Suso replied one thing they embarked on was updating their Community Land Use and Facilities Plan. It was facilitated in part by a consultant but had critical interaction with Council members, key Council committees and key staff. They discussed the kind of community they wanted to be in 5, 10, 15 and 20 year increments. They wanted to build two new fire stations, expand the ice arena facility, purchase a golf course, City Hall, senior center, etc., and all this came out of the participatory process that Council took the lead on. They noted they could generate new revenues for senior centers, ice arena, golf course, etc. and it allowed them to become cost effective. It allowed them to maintain staffing and to set priorities and manage those facilities in a profound way. The development standards all came from that and they put together their 5 year capital plan which came initially from each of the departments. They had a standard review process with Council and with the Planning Commission. He said each year they would update the five year plan and pull out their vision document and determine what their priority setting was to make the various things happen that would represent the kind of community they wanted to become. They would have internal staff meetings to refine it each year. Council would ask leaders of the community to give input with the 5-10 year planning process and that would help. He said a lot of this comes out of the kinds of bonds that you establish with professionals in the City that are trained and educated to make those kinds of good things happen.
Member Paul asked how he rewarded and inspired employees doing well and if not doing well what was his plan to get them back on track, what was the process to instill documentation in that regard, and if fired what was his process.
Mr. Suso believed most public servants are good honest people, and his responsibility was to make sure they were paid a fair wage, supported in their work, provide a safe environment, and that the door was open for discussion. He said it was standard operating procedure to interview and evaluate everyone at least once a year. He said a written evaluation should be done to supply documentation about the job they are doing. It would allow the supervisor a formal process to counsel them if there were some challenges or some fine tuning in their behavior. There has to be regular communication. A once a year process would be the worst case scenario since it should happen more often. Itís critical to have an employee evaluation because it tends to avoid bigger problems occurring. He believed people should stay a long time in one place. If there was an employee who has a problem, interaction with Human Resources or the City Manager should happen, so that it internalizes the fact that if you have a problem there are people you can go to and work with. Problems can be surmounted and he was a strong believer that employees, ideally, worked their entire careers here. One critical skill was listening, and sometimes an employee can work it out on their own. There should be a strict time table to respond to the change, many times, that is all they need. However, there are other times to begin the disciplinary process that could result in suspension or discharge. Rewarding good employees could be done through the normal evaluation process. He said another possibility to move up in pay range or if the departments are able to recommend additional rewards to employees who really shine. A small pay rate adjustment could be given, not a bonus. He felt it was important to say thank you, pat them on the back or a written or verbal thank you, as most only want that. When a job is done and done well, there is something special about a manager or supervisor thanking them privately and often. Public
employees are a special group and great people deserving of that kind of thank you on a regular basis.
Mayor Landry asked what the most effective way was for a municipality to arrive at its annual budget.
Mr. Suso felt it was critical for the management team to sit down with City Council every year at one or more public sessions and talk about priorities. Challenges come and go, priorities change and it is critical for the management staff to have feedback from the Council on where their priorities lie. This should be done early to allow the staff to work in a creative atmosphere. When you have talented people and they get that kind of direction they could do some amazing things in terms of creative budgeting and partnerships with outside organizations to move projects forward. Also, if becomes clear that priorities have changed, you can begin to place energy in other areas where it would be much more effective. Structure is very important for managing and accountability. One has to be careful that their professionals are allowed that creativity within that structure so they are not so regimented that they canít be creative. Then each department starts work on the draft budgeting process as the Manager continues the interaction with Council. Then the draft budget needed to come to the Manager and the finance team for review. The Manager needed to meet with key department staff to discuss their budget. Then the draft budget should come back to the Manager and the finance team to discuss it, and work with the finance team for the revenues and any other challenges they would face. The five year budgets should also be fine tuned at that time. Then the more informal discussions would take place and lastly the formal discussions.
Mr. Suso stated in some of the background work he had done, he identified some challenges for the City of Novi in its maturing, revenue stream and the need to identify some future sources of revenue. He also recognized some important infrastructure improvements, traffic, sewer and water, and there seemed to be a lot of good things in place to begin and continue that process. He noted the fire department needed attention as far as a vision of what it should be. What the fire services should be, what the rescue services should be, and how to man the stations. He was really taken with the number of parallels between Mentor and Novi in terms of growth and development and staffing. He noted in Mentor they had the largest combined fire department in Ohio. They combined both full time and part time volunteer firefighters, and went through a process with their five stations. Some stations were strictly manned by part time people, others were full time stations, and went through the process over time and through a public dialogue they combined the full and part time at each of the five stations. It did present challenges and opportunities. The City of Mentor enjoyed a rating of ISO 2 from the Federal Insurance Services Office for their fire department. It was a broad measure of the quality of service provided by a fire department. They achieved that rating
during his tenure and maintained it during his 16 years. He believed he had the management tools to solve those kinds of challenges in a participatory way. There were public safety challenges because of growth in the police department and the fire department. He said there was an excellent balance of commercial and industrial areas with an excellent tax base; Noviís was almost $3 billion and a significant history of land use planning and visionary elected and appointed leaders. He noted they drove to Novi and were taken by the quality of life indicators they saw going through the community, land use, subdivisions, signage and the way traffic
intersections were laid out. He knew there was a desire to do more in terms of gateways, signage and welcome to the community, and he had experience with that and thought it was critically important. He learned as City Manager that people and businesses have many choices. If we want our community to be successful we have to recognize that we need to be different. We need to distinguish ourselves, provide choices to families, conduct ourselves in a quality way, to make quality long term investments so that we are in a community that was set apart. Many things get developed due to geographic location, that helps but in the long run what keeps quality businesses and residents in the community is working in partnership with the schools, having Parks and Recreation in natural areas that are extraordinary, having greenways, public services, public safety, etc. Bring in a professional team and listen to Council to make things happen, and work on behalf of the citizens. While everything canít be achieved in one year, working with people over time, great and exciting things can happen.
He also asked if Council had any individual feedback for any other challenges or opportunities they saw for their City Manager to come. Mayor Landry advised him time would not permit his request. Julian Suso asked what the process and timetable would be. Mr. Landry said Mr. Slavin would brief him. There were a few other candidates to interview and then Council would make their decision. Mr. Suso wanted to underscore his interest in the position here with the City of Novi. Novi is a vibrant and exciting community and the future was one that he would very much like to be a part of. Itís filled with excitement and opportunity. He said the hospitality and welcome in the Novi community had spoken volumes.
Mayor Landry said Member Paul was unable to attend the meeting on Thursday, May 11, so they would have to reschedule. He said Saturday, 13th was not convenient for everyone so it would have to be pushed to next week. He asked that everyone bring their calendars to Mondayís Council meeting to schedule a date.
Member Paul suggested Wednesday or Friday. Member Nagy had a commitment on Wednesday.
There being no further business to come before Council, the meeting was adjourned at
David Landry, Mayor Maryanne Cornelius, City Clerk
____________________________ Approved on: May 22, 2006
Transcribed by Charlene Mc Lean