Decatur City Council President Paige Bibbee has added her own proposal to discussions on a new city employee organizational chart, and it includes two positions shared with other groups.
Bibbee’s plan would create a chief operating officer, an economic development position whose salary would be shared by Decatur Utilities, and a residential development position whose salary would be shared by the Decatur-Morgan County Chamber of Commerce.
“This is just a proposal I’m throwing out there for us to discuss along with the other proposals,” Bibbee said. “I think we need to discuss every idea.”
Mayor Tab Bowling and Human Resources Director Richelle Sandlin previously submitted proposed organizational charts.
Officials began talking about restructuring upper-level management responsibilities in the city in September shortly after a council committee was unsuccessful in finding a new director of development to replace retiring Wally Terry. Another opening for a director is anticipated in January when Decatur Youth Services Director Bruce Jones will retire.
A lawsuit over the city's refusal to implement the council-manager form of government approved by Decatur voters in 2010 also has contributed to discussion on the organizational chart. Bibbee acknowledged the lawsuit could lead to hiring of a city manager. She said if that occurred, her organizational plan would just add a city manager below the council and the mayor, who likely would become part time.
Council members said they either hadn't yet seen Bibbee's plan or had seen it only briefly without having time to study it. The City Council canceled last week’s work session in which Bibbee planned to present her proposal because it didn’t have a quorum.
Bibbee said the economic development employee in her organizational chart would be the liaison with DU and work with any commercial or retail development that needs infrastructure.
“He or she would have a good relationship with DU and the Planning, Community Development and Building departments,” Bibbee said.
Bibbee said the residential development person would work with the chamber to attract residential developers and solve issues leading to sluggish subdivision construction.
Bibbee said she would like Terry to consider working part time in the residential development position. Terry could not be reached for comment.
DU General Manager Ray Hardin and chamber President and CEO John Seymour said they talked with Bibbee briefly about her proposal but they have a lot of questions.
“She mentioned it in passing, so I don’t know very much at all about what she wants to do,” Hardin said. “One question I have is who this (economic development) person would report to because it would be very cumbersome if he or she had to report to both the city and us.”
Hardin said the city’s role has always included increasing development “and then we support that development with the appropriate services.” He said his utility also supports the other organizations involved in development, including the chamber, the Morgan County Economic Development Association and the Decatur Downtown Redevelopment Authority.
“The city needs to plan for economic development, and then we will come in behind and support them,” Hardin said.
Seymour said he needs to know more about her idea.
“We’ve already got an ongoing residential development committee that works with Wally and the Planning Commission,” Seymour said.
Bibbee has not come up with salaries for the additional positions in her proposal. She said the director of development position would be eliminated, so that salary could fund the economic development position.
Bibbee’s chart keeps the City Council and mayor in their traditional roles with the mayor running the city and the council providing legislative support.
It divides responsibilities, with directors in administration reporting to the existing CFO position, and directors in operations reporting to the newly created COO. Information Technology, the Morgan County Regional Landfill, Legal, City Clerk and, if approved at Tuesday’s meeting, a communications specialist, would answer directly to the City Council and mayor.
The proposal calls for the Personnel Department to move into the organizational chart. This would require a local state legislative act.
A local legislative act created the Personnel Department and its director, and they operate under the oversight of an appointed board that employs its own attorney. The Personnel Board reviews employment policy changes, approves job descriptions and makes recommendations to the council on positions and salary and benefits.
“I think there needs to be more oversight (of personnel policy),” Bibbee said. “And a lot of cities have made this change in recent years.”
A big change would be to have Decatur Youth Services become a unit of Parks and Recreation. Bibbee said she would not replace DYS Director Bruce Jones, who is retiring in January.
Instead, Program Coordinator Lemzel Johnson would become the leader of DYS and answer to Parks and Recreation Director Jason Lake. She pointed out that the city would realize a savings in not hiring a DYS director.
The proposals by Sandlin and Bowling also add a COO, but they don't have the shared positions that are in Bibbee's plan and also keep DYS under a director.