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SPECIAL MEETING OF THE COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF NOVI

THURSDAY, JANUARY 6, 2000, AT 7:00 PM

COUNCIL CHAMBERS-NOVI CIVIC CENTER-45175 W. TEN MILE ROAD

 

Mayor Clark called the meeting to order at 7:06 PM

PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE

ROLL CALL: Mayor Clark, Mayor ProTem Lorenzo, Council Members Bononi, Crawford, Csordas, DeRoche and Kramer

ALSO PRESENT: Tia Groulund-Fox

AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION - None

PURPOSE OF SPECIAL MEETING

1. City Manager Interviews

Steve Babinchak

Member Kramer asked for a synopsis of Mr. Babinchak’s educational background that related to this position.

Mr. Babinchak said basically there were four major disciplines in the business world. They are management, finance, marketing and accounting. Of the four he had a documented proficiency in three of them. He has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration from Wayne State University. During that time he majored in operations management and specialized in service industry. He went to Walsh College and obtained his Masters Degree in finance graduating with honors and distinction. He also concurrently took all the course work he would need to sit for his C.P.A. examination. Recently, in 1998, he completed his Certified Municipal Finance Administrator certification through Central Michigan University. This was a three-year program run in conjunction with the Michigan Municipal Treasurers Association.

Mr. Babinchak said he has 12 ˝ years of experience working as a public servant for the City of Novi. As the City Treasurer he has been managing the City’s portfolio through the buying and selling of different investment vehicles timed to meet the cash flow needs as they arise or at the time of purchase to take advantage of the yield curve. He authored a Comprehensive Investment Policy for the City of Novi that was certified through the Michigan Municipal Treasurers Association of the United States and Canada based in Washington D.C., which was presented in August 1999.

Mr. Babinchak was in the Building Department as a Code Compliance Officer and was responsible for the enforcement of City Ordinances but specialized in environmental ordinances. He felt this experience had given him a great deal of experience working with different kinds of people, working out settlements and negotiating solutions to problems under difficult circumstances.

Mr. Babinchak is also working part-time for a public accounting firm in Brighton. Basically, he works there to keep up on his public accounting skills and felt it would be to his advantage because next year the new accounting rules for Municipal Corporations go into affect. This will eliminate fund accounting and replace it with a system that mimics the private sector.

As a previous entrepreneur, he has a tremendous amount of respect for people who go into their own business and felt he would bring that to this position and thought it would be of some comfort to the business community knowing that he had been in their shoes and understood.

As an entrepreneur he learned how to take a systematic approach to solving problems, to make decisions and listen to the customer.

Member Kramer asked if he attained his C.P.A. or if he just had the background?

Mr. Babinchak said he did not and the reason it was not pursued was because he obtained his Masters Degree while working in the Building Department and he was not being reimbursed for any of the educational expenses. Also, in order to obtain a C.P.A. you had to work for a public accounting firm for two years. He had been working for a public accounting firm for years and to go back and go through that again would be redundant. Mr. Babinchak said with the accounting classes taken in the graduate program, post-graduate and for his Bachelor’s Degree he has more credit hours in accounting than a person who graduates with a degree in accounting.

Member Kramer asked which accomplishment was his greatest and why?

Mr. Babinchak said the most challenging accomplishment that would be relevant would be the Treasury Department. When he became Treasurer in 1995 the department was still entering information on oversized ledger books. There were no CPU’s on employee’s desks. It took two weeks after the due date to post the tax receipts and was costing the City a tremendous amount of money and had overwhelmed the department employees.

Mr. Babinchak said he realized there was a number of things to be done but that doing these things would create a lot of personnel issues. He redistributed the work responsibilities, reassigned personnel, created new work procedures to be followed and a new work environment and new expectations of the staff. In order to accomplish all of this, computers were added to everyone’s desk, the staff was trained on them and lock box systems were employed. They connected to the county receivable system, contracted out the printing, folding and stuffing of the tax bills and added bar codes to the tax bills and water bills so those that came in over the counter could be processed faster. As of this month A.C.H. direct debiting will be possible for the water and sewer customers.

In addition, they made one person responsible for letters of credit, surety bonds, financial guarantees of all sorts, cash, fees, etc. which was starting to overwhelm the different departments because of the growth in Novi.

Workstations were completely redesigned to accommodate the new responsibilities of the staff and quarterly meetings were instituted to keep everyone abreast of the changes. The input from the staff was genuine and he used it. Things would be amended based on the feed back he received from the staff. None of the changes were made in a vacuum and because of this he believed that the staff was very supportive and there were no personnel problems whatsoever.

Now we have a very successful and profitable transformation to a state of the art cash 0management and treasury operation that is being used as a model for other communities. One of the best things about this procedure, other than increasing the amount of revenue, is that not one dollar of the funds collected are ever sitting and not earning interest. Every dollar at every minute of the day is earning interest in this City.

Member Kramer asked, as City Manger, what his approach would be to achieving, soliciting and including individuals participation in City processes outreach to the community?

Mr. Babinchak said he has been told that his leadership style has been one of coaching and cheerleading and to a great extent that is accurate. He said fundamentally he believed in people and that people given the right tools and proper encouragement would generally do their very best. As City Manager he thought one needed to be a good communicator and able to express ideas and situations in a way other people could understand. He believed you needed to be a problem solver and flexible with employees and staff.

Mr. Babinchak said the activities that were going on had to be communicated. He felt this could be done through the subdivision associations. These subdivision associations meetings could have input from the City and get answers to the questions and concerns they might have and information could be disseminated to them about things that are happening in the community. By keeping the people informed, he felt they would volunteer their time and efforts automatically.

Member Bononi asked what he liked most about his current position?

Mr. Babinchak said he enjoyed being apart of a team effort and right now there were a lot of good things happening in the financial area of the City and it is good to be a part of that. He stated he enjoyed the people he worked with a great deal and liked knowing he was doing something that he felt was important. He enjoyed helping people that come with questions and being able to give them some answers or help.

Member Bononi asked what he liked least about his current position?

Mr. Babinchak said paper work.

Member Bononi asked, based on the fact that he has the inside track in observing what goes on at the Civic Center, if he were hired as City Manager what would be the first two things he would do?

Mr. Babinchak said first he would introduce himself and his family to the community. He would want to let them know who he was and that he was one of them. Also, that he probably has many of the same concerns they did, he is available and if they have concerns they can feel

free to come and talk to him and he would listen. He has two children in the Novi school system, he entertains here, eats here and his life in Novi went beyond the 9 to 5.

 

 

Mr. Babinchak said he would also want to work with Council very closely. Council Members are the representatives of this community and he would want to make sure that he was on the

same playing field as they were in terms of what it was they wanted to accomplish. He felt he would need to meet Councils expectations.

Member Bononi asked if City Manager what positive thing would he do about the six hundred thousand dollar plus shortfall owed to the General Fund from the Ice Arena?

Mr. Babinchak said the City took the proper step in hiring new management. He believed Suburban has done a much better job of operating the facility. They have raised their price to a rate that is competitive and should cover most of the costs. He felt they had seen some of the fruits of that and that the problem would take care of itself.

Member Bononi asked how long it would take care of itself at the rate it is going now?

Mr. Babinchak thought the Finance Department would have a better grip on the day to day activities. Most of the reports received are showing that things are turning around and the City might get money very soon to help pay down the debt.

Member Bononi asked if he had ever discharged anyone?

Mr. Babinchak said he had.

Member Bononi asked what the circumstances were and how long ago it was?

Mr. Babinchak said the last time was about six years ago when he still owned a restaurant and it involved theft of product. He confronted the individual, he did not deny it and he was terminated.

Member Bononi asked what his opinion of fast tracking development proposals was?

Mr. Babinchak thought it was fraught with all kinds of complications. Internally it made it very difficult for the fees to be assessed on a regular basis and for the City to know that the proper amount of fees are assessed at the proper time. If the builder went bankrupt the City could be caught holding the bag for the financial guarantees. However, he understood the City of Novi needed to do something about the way it handled new businesses coming in. He thought more caution was needed with regard to who is allowed to come into the community. If the property is zoned correctly, if it is not requesting a lot of variances and the structure meets building codes it is not a problem. When someone wants zoning changes and variances, etc. then there is a problem. He thought when in a fast track situation control of the project could be lost.

Member Csordas asked Mr. Babinchak why he was applying for this position?

Mr. Babinchak said people that know him the best had encouraged him the most. After thinking about it and becoming comfortable with it he believed that it was right that a citizen who cared apply for the position. He said he cared very much about the community and felt he was capable of doing the job.

Mr. Babinchak knew there would be costs associated with this position and he would have to make sacrifices. He said he had chosen the City of Novi as his place to live and raise his family and has a deep commitment to the community.

Mr. Babinchak said he has the technical skills that are needed to perform this job and he believed he had the proper work attitude to maintain a positive attitude especially when others begin to lose their composure.

Mr. Babinchak said he also had a sincere desire to move this City forward. This is his home.

 

Member Csordas asked what he thought would be the most significant challenge to the City currently and what would his proposal be to address that?

Mr. Babinchak said it would be easy to say the biggest issue confronting the City was the Sand Stone Development lawsuit. He thought an even larger issue was the credibility that this government has to the people of the City of Novi and thought the two would be intertwined.

Member Csordas asked how he would address the credibility component of that answer?

Mr. Babinchak said credibility comes with open honest communication with a sincere desire to effectively listen, not just hear, what people have to say and solve issues. He said while in Code Enforcement, 95% of the time the issues could be solved in a pre-trial hearing. He found that people just wanted to be sure that they were heard and that you knew how they felt. People will respond and they understand things do not always go perfectly well and there will be problems.

Member Csordas said the City’s anticipated build out is approximately in the year 2020 and asked what his philosophy regarding the continued balanced growth of the City of Novi to that build out?

Mr. Babinchak said as long as the Master Plan was followed he did not think there would be any problems with regard to how the City developed. If at some point the citizens decide they want to make a change to the Master Plan, then we have to keep in mind that the Master Plan is a product of the people of this community and is subject to change.

Member DeRoche said there are people in the community who think that the City Administration might be due for some positive changes. Let’s assume that that is the case. What would you do to instill confidence in the community and the Council that you could be an agent of positive change since you work for the organization?

Mr. Babinchak said people would see that he has direct hands on experience of working for this community. He worked for the Parks and Recreation Department, D.P.W., Building Department, Ordinance Enforcement Division and for the Finance Department and Treasury. He has a firm grasp of what went on in the community and what all of the responsibilities are that are involved in the operation of a City.

Mr. Babinchak said he is familiar with the internal issues and some of the personalities of the department heads. He has a broad based background, which he thought had been focused on the management of organizations.

He stated he brought a true commitment to the City of Novi and never wanted to compromise that. He believed he had the personal attributes that one would find desirable in a City Manager. He believed he had honesty, integrity and that the greatest comfort he could bring people was that he had a sincere willingness to listen to them.

Member DeRoche asked if he aspired to be a City Manager or was it because he lived and worked in the City so his passion was that he would want to be the City Manager of Novi.

Mr. Babinchak said both.

Member DeRoche asked what it would take to get the employees operating as a team under his leadership.

Mr. Babinchak thought the first thing was to recognize the efforts that people put forth. All to often, it is very easy to overlook the efforts that individuals make from the receptionist, clerk typist and all the way up to the department heads. He felt it was important to recognize their efforts are important and that they contribute to the success of the department and the City. If employees are only recognized when they make mistakes you are sending a message. If they believe they can try new things and if there are mistakes you will work with them the end result will be that the employee feels comfortable in making changes. He believed those kind of things bring people together and once they have success that success begets success.

Member DeRoche asked Mr. Babinchak to tell Council about a time when his performance did not meet his expectations and what he learned as a result of that?

Mr. Babinchak said when talking about the changes made in the Treasury Department he found that when he felt what they were doing was a good idea and might save the City some money he would get excited and start making the changes. Sometimes, he

would forget the people doing the day to day activity were affected by those changes and might not be as enthusiastic as he was. What he is doing now is he rolls out change on a more acceptable pace so people can get used to it and are not overwhelmed all at one time.

Member Crawford asked how Mr. Babinchak felt about residency requirements?

Mr. Babinchak believed, especially for a position of City Manager, that residency should be mandatory and that residency was necessary and reasonable for some of the key positions. In some positions maybe a within 20 mile radius rule would be appropriate. Then for others of the staff and employees he did not feel a residency rule would benefit the community.

Member Crawford asked what his co-workers would say about him if they were asked?

Mr. Babinchak thought they would speak very highly of him. He said he had a very good relationship with all of the employees and most of the people that work in the City.

 

 

He said his staff has been through a lot with him. He has supported them on a number of issues and they have supported him as well. Together they have made a difference and they are proud of it.

Member Crawford asked what his experience was with budget preparation, dealing with the media, human resources and computer experience?

Mr. Babinchak said while he was a Code Enforcement Officer he specialized in all of the environmental ordinances, which were brand new at the time. He found that for about a year and a half his name was getting into the newspaper on a weekly basis so he learned a lot about how to speak with reporters. He also learned that reporters have deadlines and if they are kept waiting it would be a less favorable article. He put together two cable programs and is familiar with that area.

As far as Human Resources experience, other than running a restaurant with over 40 employees, since being in the Treasury Department he has been involved in all but two of the hiring of the people that currently work there.

Mr. Babinchak said he is personally responsible for the Treasury Department budget and the maintenance and the preparation of that budget. Prior to the current Finance Director and budget analyst he was also involved with the budget analyst to a degree working out projections and revenue projections from different kinds of revenue sources.

He said when he was self employed budgeting was a huge part of what he did. He said this was not only in the financial sense but also in the product sense. He did a daily variance report so he could tell if the cash was all there and if the product was all there.

He said he has a great deal of experience in computers and had been involved with them since the early 80’s and knows all of the major software programs very well. These programs include Word, Word Perfect, Excel, Lotus 1, 2, 3 and is the Internet. He said he had proprietary tax software and is familiar with proprietary tax software run by Oakland County. He has an aptitude in miscellaneous financial software and accounting software. He said over the years he has acquired the ability to build a computer from the box up.

Member Crawford asked if he saw anything that could potentially interfere with his effectiveness as a City Manager?

Mr. Babinchak said he did not. He said he has a sincere desire to do what is right for this community. In addition, he has a tremendously supportive wife and family who are always there for him. He said if he were chosen for City Manager he would begin to go to work earnestly in that role doing what was necessary. He would discuss with Council what they thought was necessary and then he would begin to make those changes.

Mayor Pro Tem Lorenzo asked if the City was the unsuccessful party in a lawsuit and the media contacted him how would he respond?

Mr. Babinchak said first he would not keep a reporter waiting. He would contact them even if he had nothing to say at the time and tell them that. When he did have

something to discuss he would be honest and tell the reporter exactly what the result of the lawsuit was. After doing that, if appropriate, he would try to tell them what the City would do, what people could expect would happen and what some of the options might be.

Mayor Pro Tem Lorenzo asked how the City could more effectively manage its risk?

Mr. Babinchak thought employee education would be beneficial. He believed that having established policies and procedures for people to follow is a very good way to protect the City from unnecessary lawsuits. He said the environment the employees work in should be looked at and the City has insurance carriers that would be a great benefit and more than glad to come in and assess our risk potential and make suggestions of what could be done to limit risk.

Mayor Pro Tem Lorenzo asked when he empowered an employee and the employees decision resulted or contributed to either a financial loss for the City, an embarrassing situation or less than quality development projects, what would he do?

Mr. Babinchak said he would find out why it occurred. If not talking about a major breach, a major violation or major cost he would discuss it with the individual and find out what went wrong. Then he would reiterate what was expected of them so there was no miscommunication. He would be sure the person who was involved was the person that should have been involved or if it should have been someone else’s responsibility.

On the other hand, if all of those things failed, he believed in giving people opportunities. People do make mistakes. He believed in people and if given the correct tools and encouragement, most will do the best that they can. However, if a person continually makes mistakes or makes a mistake that puts the City at risk then it is necessary to take the appropriate action up to and including dismissal.

Mayor Pro Tem Lorenzo asked what Mr. Babinchak would most enjoy as City Manager?

He said he liked people and he would most enjoy working with them.

Mayor Pro Tem Lorenzo asked what he would least enjoy?

Mr. Babinchak said paper work.

Mayor Pro Tem Lorenzo asked if a Council Member or the Mayor shared some information with you that could be relevant to a future decision would you share this information with the rest of the Council or would you expect the Council Member or Mayor to share that information?

Mr. Babinchak said he would definitely share the information. He would make it perfectly clear to everyone that there are no secrets and that if they talked to him it was public information. There are exceptions such as a personnel or legal issue where confidentiality is required. He said he did not know a single manager who was ever good at what they did without surrounding themselves with other talented and highly motivated people. He did not believe anyone could do the job by alone. He said

the best decisions come from a group of people who are committed and have different talents that when combined the best decisions are made. He would never try to make a decision alone unless it was an emergency situation and it was necessary to do so.

Mayor Pro Tem Lorenzo asked if there was an allegation of sexual harassment within a department how would you approach the situation?

Mr. Babinchak said he would follow procedure to the letter.

Mayor Pro Tem Lorenzo asked if there was sufficient evidence would any disciplinary action be taken?

Mr. Babinchak said absolutely.

Mayor Pro Tem Lorenzo asked if he thought a department head should be aware of such a situation?

Mr. Babinchak said corporations and municipalities used to be able to get away with the idea that if they did everything they could and had a policy, it absolved them of any responsibility. The supreme court issues that went into effect late last year changed all that and put the burden squarely on the employer. Again, this all comes back to managing a department and being involved with the people in your department. It is important to know your employees and take a little personal interest in their private lives. After a while you gain their respect and they are more willing to work with you because you have shown a sincere interest in that individual. If a manager is effective most of those situations can be avoided.

Mayor Pro Tem Lorenzo asked if a department head is unaware of the situation there should be consequences?

Mr. Babinchak said each case is different and needed to be looked at on a one to one basis. The relevant question would be why they did not know about it.

Mayor Pro Tem Lorenzo asked if potentially contaminating materials were illegally dumped on City property by City employees how would he handle it?

Mr. Babinchak said he worked very hard setting up the environmental rules that are now common place in this community. He would not rush to judgement but would want to find out what exactly happened and why and then make an appropriate decision about what to do.

Mayor Pro Tem Lorenzo asked if any disciplinary action would be taken and to what degree?

Mr. Babinchak believed there would probably be disciplinary action and the degree would depend upon the results of the investigation.

Mayor Clark asked what he would say his major personal and professional qualifications for the position were?

Mr. Babinchak said he had the technical skills and met the educational standards necessary to be the City Manager. The most important thing is a sincere desire to move the community forward and to work with the community. He stated he loved this community and was not going anywhere and felt there was a lot to happen yet and to be part of that would be an honor.

Mayor Clark asked whoever is selected City Manager, in your opinion, what did he think it would take for that person to be a success in that position?

Mr. Babinchak said the most important thing that person would have to do would be to gain the confidence of the community. The residents of this community would have to feel that person represents their interests and their concerns. The person must also be an excellent communicator and have core personal values. The person would have to be open to new suggestions and ideas and recognize that they do not own the City of Novi; they just have the privilege of going for the ride. It would have to be a team effort requiring compromises and working together.

Mr. Babinchak said he knew there was a desire to look outside the City of Novi for a person for this position. He realized there could be some advantage to that because it might bring in some new ideas. However, that person does not live here and this is not their home and to have someone come in and tell us what we need to do would not sit well with most of us.

Mr. Babinchak said he did have some new ideas, did not come from the regular mold and is a member of this community. He said he is familiar with the issues and probably has many of the same concerns Council does. This is his home and he would never do anything to compromise that.

Ms. Gronlund-Fox asked what three words would people who know him professionally and personally use to describe him?

Mr. Babinchak said supportive, honest and fun.

Ms. Gronlund-Fox asked why they would choose those words?

Mr. Babinchak said because so much of his life has been so serious that over the years he has developed a sense of fun about what he does and tries to encourage that in other people. He always believed people who are happy would work better and do better work. Regarding supportive, he listens to and offers advice to people when they ask for it. He does not judge people right away and tries to do what he can for people when he can. He said he was taught honesty when he was young, and it is just something that he is.

Ms. Gronlund-Fox asked what the words work ethic and integrity meant to him?

Mr. Babinchak felt the City Manager would be irresponsible not to set a work ethic that others could emulate. He said he normally worked until the job was done. In addition, he thought a good work ethic would not allow someone to abuse the privileges of their position. In terms of integrity he believed someone in a leadership role needed to be

someone whose history, past and behavior on a regular basis is something that does not cause embarrassment or bring shame upon someone. He said people who are honest, especially when it is difficult and they might not look their best if they tell the truth, in time will earn the respect of their peers.

Kerreen Conley

Ms. Gronlund-Fox asked if hired for this position what would be the most challenging undertaking?

Ms. Conley said one of the biggest challenges facing this community is the public perception and confidence that the public has in the community, city hall, and Council. This would be one of the key things that needed to be addressed. That happens through involving citizens, listening to what their concerns are and acting on those concerns.

Ms. Gronlund-Fox asked what three words would people who know her best, both professionally and personally, use to describe her and why.

Ms. Conley said creative because she tended to be creative in her problem solving and at home. She said panoramic in her views of how she looked at things. She looked outside of a small box and looked at things from different perspectives. She takes the opportunity to look at outcomes that might take place before a decision is made and what other decisions could possibly be made. Lastly, ambitious and anyone who knew her knew she carried a lot on her plate. Whether it be that she is working on a Masters Degree or that she is involved in a community organization or spending a lot of hours in her job because she takes pride in what she does.

Ms. Gronlund-Fox asked what the words work ethic and integrity mean to her?

Ms. Conley felt they came hand in hand. She said work ethic is how you go about doing your job, taking pride, making good decisions and being able to sleep at night knowing that you are making the right decisions. Integrity is about you as a person and how people perceive you, are you a person of integrity, do people find you to be trustworthy, reliable and truthful to them. She thought that all of those are components to integrity.

Mayor Pro Tem Lorenzo asked what aspects of the City Manager position do you think you will enjoy most?

Ms. Conley said it is two fold, the people and the problem solving. She enjoyed this in her current job and thought that the City Manager’s role added more than what her current position did. There would be the ability to not only listen to the people but influence a lot more of the changes that are to take place.

Mayor Pro Tem Lorenzo asked what she would enjoy least?

Ms. Conley said people who are fairly closed minded and who have the perception that they have always done it this way and therefore that is the only way it should be done.

 

People are afraid of change sometimes and that might be the way it is presented to them but the closed mindedness is not the most effective means for really moving into the future.

Mayor Pro Tem Lorenzo asked how the City could more effectively handle its risk management?

Ms. Conley said currently we are looking at some of those possibilities with the Consultant Review Committee. She is looking at someone professionally coming in and helping them with their risk management. She has very limited staff and she was not certain they had the skills or time to dedicate to such an important aspect within our community. Ms. Conley said hiring someone from the outside might get them started, help them develop policies, procedures and practices that should be followed in the future to help them help themselves to manage risk.

Mayor Pro Tem Lorenzo asked if she had initiated or implemented any Human Resource Departmental policies that saved the City money or have provided greater efficiency?

Ms. Conley said efficiency is probably the main focus that she has had the opportunity to work here. They are looking for opportunities within departments. As they have changed over it is a great opportunity to re-evaluate positions. She said adding people was not her first choice of how to solve problems. It was looking at processes, making sure they are doing things efficiently and making the best use of the people she has. She said she has streamlined a lot of the processes between the Building Department and the Planning Department. She is looking at ways to avoid duplicating efforts.

Ms. Conley said when she worked for the City of Belleville they were going through a large growth spurt. They had a part time building official that was paid for being in the office from 8 am to 10 am and per inspection and per re-inspection. They were paying about $63,000 a year for a part time individual. They found he was not meeting the needs of the community and certainly needed more availability of the person in the department. They needed someone who could be on more of a full time basis. They created a position that started around $30,000 to $34,000 and was a full time temporary basis. They were there until the growth had leveled off and therefore they had not created a full time position on their staff that would have been there forever but was there to meet the needs of the community.

Mayor Pro Tem Lorenzo asked when she empowered an employee and the employee’s decision resulted or contributed to either a financial loss for the City, an embarrassing situation or less than quality development projects what would she do?

Ms. Conley said first address the issue at hand immediately. She would investigate it to find out what happened and what went wrong. Was it the fact that the supervisor did not provide enough training, was it that the individual did not have the skills or the abilities to do the job or make a good quality decision? We typically empower people

 

 

 

when we reach a level when we feel that they are capable and can make good judgements and when they do not we step back and re-evaluate that.

Mayor Pro Tem Lorenzo asked if a Council Member or the Mayor shared some information with you that could be relevant to a future decision would you share this information with the rest of the Council or would you expect the Council Member or Mayor to share that information?

Ms. Conley said she hoped that any City Manager coming in would establish a policy or a practice with the Council right up front. She felt it was important that everyone is on the same team and that information is provided to everybody. She said Council, especially, is making the decisions and are the policy makers of the community and need to be provided with as much information as possible.

Mayor Pro Tem Lorenzo asked if the City was the unsuccessful party in a lawsuit and the media contacted her, how would she respond?

Ms. Conley hoped that any lawsuit that happened to be out there everyone would be aware of at least on the Council and the administration. She would hope that when we enter into a lawsuit we strategize and realize that we can win or lose and in advance of any decision being made we have something prepared in the event that we do lose and be able to communicate something initially to the media. It is important to provide the media with good information. They are the first link to the citizens, they are the paper, and they are the voice that people are going to hear. We have to be sure that they are going to get good quality data when we do respond.

Mayor Pro Tem Lorenzo asked if there was an allegation of sexual harassment within a department how would you approach the situation?

Ms. Conley said it should be immediately investigated, report back to both parties as to what would take place and then take appropriate and immediate actions for discipline up to and including termination. We have a very standardized policy here and the managers have all worked with their employees to insure that they understand how serious sexual harassment is.

Mayor Pro Tem Lorenzo asked if the department head should be aware of such a situation happening?

Ms. Conley thought if there was a employee underneath a supervisor who was engaging in such activities it would be important for that supervisor to be aware of the behaviors of the individual because there might be only one person reporting it but there might be others.

Mayor Pro Tem Lorenzo asked if a department head is unaware of the situation should there be consequences?

 

Ms. Conley thought if they were unaware of it it would be difficult to right off the bat discipline them. She thought they should be advised and made aware of the situation and felt this was not always obvious to a manager.

Mayor Pro Tem Lorenzo asked if potentially contaminating materials were illegally dumped on City property by City employees how would she handle it?

Ms. Conley said the first and foremost issue would be to address the dumping issue to make sure it has been taken care of and appropriately disposed of. It is also important, if the media has insight into what is going on, that it is appropriately communicated to them as it should have already been communicated to the Council and those bodies that might get inquiries in regards to it. As far as the employee is concerned investigate what and how it happened and where the process seemed to have failed and discipline accordingly.

Member Bononi asked Ms. Conley what the population of Belleville was?

Ms. Conley stated it was about 5,000.

Member Bononi said given the differences in the size of Belleville and Novi and other demographics that would differ how did she think her previous municipal assignment prepared her to seek the position of City Manager in Novi?

Ms. Conley said this is the third community she has worked in and the problems that happen in one community will typically happen in another. They may be on different magnitudes. She said we face a lot of the same challenges such as, traffic, growth, and dissatisfaction. She thought the key ingredients in being a City Manager in Belleville was she dealt with all of the departments. She oversaw the building department, police, fire, and D.P.W. This is larger, a lot of their issues are very similar and some are very different but those offer the challenge and the learning experience which are exciting opportunities. She said in a small community you are in a position where you listen really closely to what the people say. They are very active, there are a lot of people at the Council meetings, a lot of close knit groups and there is a sense of community where a lot is learned about what is going on. These are very good assets she would bring to the job that would help in this community even though it is larger.

Member Bononi asked if she was hired as City Manager what are the first two administrative things she would do?

Ms. Conley said first she would sit down with Council to have a clear understanding of what the goals and objectives of the Council are and what direction they wanted to see the City go. Then she would meet with the staff individually as well as the staff as whole and make sure that everybody understands what those goals and objectives are and that they understand where we need to head with that in mind. She would also get a grasp from the legal aspect to know what is out there and what types of things we are faced with in the court system. Those are things that will face the City and impact the City throughout the time of being a City Manager and to be able to prepare for those types of things.

 

Member Bononi asked what she would do about the $600,000 plus short fall owed to the General Fund from the ice arena?

Ms. Conley said the change in management has provided a more positive outlook than we have seen in the past. She thought money might be lost in the first few years, as with any business, and it needed to be monitored very closely. She thought the fact that they are looking for alternative revenues coming in to help offset that is a great source of helping to defer that. It is important to look at the operations to make sure the City is getting the best bang for the buck and to make sure that all the things we anticipate should be happening are happening. She thought it important to have it mapped out as far as what the goal and objectives are in reducing the deficit and try and stick to that plan.

Member Bononi asked what she liked most about her current position?

Ms. Conley said she liked the problem solving aspect. It provided her with the opportunity to evaluate how we do business, what services we provide and how we can do things better. She enjoyed looking at processes and being sure things are done efficiently and that good service is being provided to the customers.

Member Bononi asked what she liked least?

Ms. Conley said people with negative attitudes and afraid of change. They have been successful in making changes in that area and it really is keyed to how change is approached and how change is implemented with employees.

Member Bononi asked if she had ever discharged anyone and under what circumstances?

Ms. Conley said she had a couple of circumstances in which she had to discharge people. In some circumstances short of discharge, she found creative ways to utilize employees elsewhere within the organization. She had been in situations where she had discharged people who were not able to perform. In doing that, she made sure that the documentation was there to support the discharge.

Member Bononi asked what her opinion was of fast tracking development proposals and if she were the City Manager would she encourage such actions?

Ms. Conley thought it was two fold. She said what has been tried in the process being worked on currently is that it is a partnership. The City administration, consultants have tried to bridge a partnership with any developer coming in saying if you can turn your plans around we will do the same. If you are willing to bring a good team to the table we will provide you the courtesy of turning things around quickly. She said what most often happens is people point the finger at the City and the reality is our track is not that slow. What they are finding is that it is the person that the developer is hiring. They generally get the best price they can which is not always the best quality and it is not the wisest thing to fast track and miss details. It is important that we take the time that we need to do an adequate job. We know there are goals and deadlines to be met and short of jeopardizing the quality that we are producing we will work with people.

She thought it was awkward to put consultants or staff in a position where they are fast tracking something at the expense of somebody else and that is not fair.

Member Csordas asked why she was applying for the position?

Ms. Conley said she enjoyed being the City Manager of Belleville. She said it provided the opportunity to influence the future of where a community is going. She said she is limited in what she can do here, although she loves what she does. This is a great community and she could not imagine a better opportunity to be present right now than the opportunity to serve this community. It is an amazing feeling to know that you have had the opportunity to influence and impact the people within a community and leave a lasting impression.

Member Csordas asked how she would describe her leadership style?

Ms. Conley said she has an ambitious side of her. She tended to have a very flexible style. It depended on what situations she was in and what she was doing that would depend on what level of drive or ambition she would need. As with a management style it is really important to understand that not everybody responds well to one style. It is important to be flexible and to be able to administer a variety of different styles depending on the situation.

Member Csordas asked what she thought the major challenge facing the City and City Council was?

Ms. Conley said the public perception and confidence was one. Second was traffic and the road bond and third was the balance of the Novi team. She said the Novi team needed to consist of three players, not only the professionals but the politicians and the public. She thought that was the key to really succeeding and it needed to be a prime focus of not only Council but administration as well.

Member Csordas said the City’s anticipated build out is approximately in the year 2020 and asked what her philosophy was regarding the continued balanced growth of the City of Novi to that build out?

Ms. Conley thought we had to be well aware of the decisions we are making. We have to concentrate on smart growth; we have to make sure that the ordinances are set so that they are protecting our interest for the future. We need to be prepared to insure that the utilities and the water that need to be in the areas that will develop in the future are there. We need to pay attention to the Master Plan and make sure it is something that works for the residents, the community, City Council and really is a reflection of where we want to see the community go.

Member DeRoche asked what she could do to gain the confidence of the Council and the citizens at large that she could be an agent of positive change being that she already works for the City that they want to see changed?

Ms. Conley thought the changes she has made in the position that she is in would help contribute to the confidence that she has that ability whether it be personnel changes,

process changes, tackling difficult decisions or following through on complaints. We are faced with a lot of changes that happen every day and changes that will happen over time. She thought that some people might be critical that there are changes they wanted to see happen overnight and the reality is that they do not. There are a lot of things that go into the decisions that we make to make changes that need to be thought through to insure that the right changes are being made not to put ourselves in a compromising position. Anyone on her staff would make it clear that she is not afraid to make changes and is very clear about communicating what changes she would like to see happen and work with the people to make them happen.

Member DeRoche asked what it would take to get the employees of Novi operating as a team under her leadership?

Ms. Conley thought operating under any leadership started with a good example. She thought the leader had to be someone who was positive and enthusiastic and had the drive and same goals and objectives. With regards to motivating the staff she thought it was contagious. She thought people who are enthusiastic couldn’t help but to make other people enthusiastic and impress that upon them. The same goes with being ambitious and being willing to make a lot of those things happen. It is important to carry that through to the department heads and help them reach that same level. Whether it be that issues have to be addressed that have staggered their ability to get there, look at the frustrations that exist within their departments or the barriers that have existed between departments or between the City Manager in various departments and break down some of those walls. Then begin to build your team back up. She said you start with the positive attitude from the top and the support of your City Manager and invest that in your department heads and then it trickles down to keep building your team up and hopefully all with the right attitude and ready to move forward.

Member DeRoche asked when telling employees to be ambitious what is it you want from them?

Ms. Conley said depending on what department they are in, there was specific criteria she would lay out that would say these are the goals and objectives. She said when she says ambitious she is saying these are great to have long term and to sit out there but she wants to see and make things happen. She wants to see progress and that is where the ambition tag falls in that she is seeing things happen not just talking about them.

Member DeRoche asked if she aspired to be City Manager of a City again or just the City of Novi.

Ms. Conley said she does aspire to be a City Manager again. She has spent time through education and experience and it is one of the careers she desires. She said Novi would be her first choice to be City Manager.

Member DeRoche asked her to tell Council about a time when her performance did not meet her expectations and what she learned from that?

 

 

Ms. Conley said it would be times when she was not as prepared as she wanted to be, that she was not as sharp as she wanted to be and the main reason that was happening was that she tended to be someone who takes on a lot of responsibilities. She carried a lot on her plate and took a lot of pride in what she does. She realized that she had to step back and although she was involved in everything under the sun that there were things that did not add value to her life or her profession. She had to really evaluate when she took things on what those things were doing from a personal and professional standpoint rather than just being the volunteer that was always reliable.

Member Kramer asked what her approach would be to reaching out to the community and involving our citizens in our City processes.

Ms. Conley thought what we do currently had to be evaluated. We currently send out public hearing notices and put notices on the Internet stating the times of the meetings. Why aren’t people responding? Is it that they do not understand what an impact it has in their life or is it that they do not have a concern or an issue? She thought they had to not be afraid of what the public has to say and she thought that has been an obstacle. When she came to Novi, she sent out a survey to developers who had developed for the past five years and was asked if she really wanted to do that? The answer was yes. They were the people who had used our system and were the best to provide the feedback and that was who she needed to go to get the information. She thought the same happens with our citizens; we need to go to them if they are not coming to us. What is it going to take to get them to participate? What is it going to take to get larger numbers of people to participate on boards and commissions? Is it that we need to go out into the community and maybe move our City Council meetings occasionally? Is it that we have meetings at different sites or different days? Is it that we really make a concerted effort to the homeowners association to get people involved? She said the bond issue is a perfect example. Once we packaged up our bond proposal, we went out to the homeowners associations and asked for their input. It probably would have been a different outcome if we had gone earlier and said we want to hear your input and we will package something up and you help us sell it. They are truly who we are serving and it is important to have their input.

Member Kramer asked how she would discover and implement the Best Practices in City government policies and procedures?

Ms. Conley thought Best practices are a great foundation. She thought Novi was a leader in a lot of directions and should very much want to establish good practices but not be afraid to take what is already established as a Best Practice and make it better.

Member Kramer asked for a brief synopsis of her education and professional background and focus on areas that would directly relate to being a City Manager for the City of Novi?

Ms. Conley said she has a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from Central Michigan University and her concentration was in finance. She has a Masters Degree in Business Administration from Eastern Michigan University and on April 30th 2000 she will have a Masters Degree in Human Resources and Organizational Development.

 

Some may question why she did not go with public administration but she believed that the City really does operate as a business. We are just in a different line. We are providing a service and the products we provide are in the form of roads, improvements and those types of things. We just do not have a bottom line like a lot of corporations. Our bottom line is making sure that we have money left over and that we have set up contingency plans to address things in the future.

She said from a professional standpoint she has a well-rounded background. She has been in local government for almost 10 years. She started in the City of Ypsilanti and was directly responsible for preparing the budget from every aspect and did the same thing in Belleville as well. Those two cities did not have a lot of money and she found very creative ways to do things. She thought it was important to bring that perspective because there might be a time when we do not have all the funds that we are used to having and would need to be very creative in their approach.

She served as City Manager in the City of Belleville where she had directly performed the duties of the City Manager. She was there for three years and performed the day to day operations and functions as a City Manager. She was responsible for overseeing the road improvements, park improvements, addressed residents concerns, made changes within departments all of which she thought were directly related to this. She also acted as the Human Resource person. She entered that community under a tragic situation with the suicide of the previous City Manager. She had the ability to work with the staff and take a very untrusting staff and community and really work to make something very good before she left. Now she has had the opportunity to work at Novi and see hands on what the growth of this community is and what its growing pains are in a larger community that is not completely developed.

Member Kramer asked what her greatest accomplishment was and why?

Ms. Conley said her greatest professional accomplishment was the way she left Belleville. She said she walked into a very strained environment with a staff that was less than trusted by the Council and amongst themselves. She had a community that needed to heal and recover from a man they respected very highly in their community. There were a lot of projects that were not done, contracts that were not completely negotiated and headed to arbitration that she was able to successfully negotiate before going to arbitration. They were able to settle contracts. She picked up very interesting and challenging time in that City. They were able to recover grants that had been issued by the D.N.R. and actually save the funds that had been issued over the five years prior to make a boardwalk happen. It was a great opportunity, although, she left under interesting circumstances by a changing Council and the termination of a contract. The number of people that came out to support her and that she supported that still remains in that community certainly was her greatest accomplishment.

Member Crawford said if he asked some of the folks in the Planning Department what they thought of you what would they say?

 

 

 

 

Ms. Conley said she had a really good repoire with her staff and she thought they would say she is approachable, easy to talk to and that she sets goals and objectives and works with them to obtain their goals. She thought they would say they had made improvements and that she looked at things from a variety of different perspectives.

Member Crawford asked for her experience in budget preparation, dealing with the news media, human resource issues and computer experience?

Ms. Conley said as a Finance Director she did everything from crunching the numbers herself to obtaining the data from departments, to trying to improve the processes they used working with Council, administration, budget committees to prepare a budget. She was involved in every aspect of dealing with the budget which included making the hard cuts when there wasn’t enough money and laying off people when they did not have the numbers to make it work. She stated she left every community she had been in in a greater position than when she came.

Ms. Conley said regarding Human Resources she had done everything from hiring, firing, training, disciplining and evaluating. She took evaluations as a tool to help people and thought they should not be done just once a year but pulled out throughout the year so people know where they are. She had done D.P.W., clerical and those types of negotiations either from a Financial Advisor standpoint or as a City Manager or as one of the members on the negotiating team.

Ms. Conley said she is well versed and not afraid of them. She has advocated a lot of change in computers when it was resisted but in the end things worked out well and the changes were made to be very proactive. When she was Finance Director she oversaw the computer systems. They went from a mainframe computer system to stand alone network computer systems.

Ms. Conley said it was really important to establish a good rapport with the news media because they are the first voice to the people. We need to partner with them and create a good relationship. In Belleville she established a good rapport with them, they had a good working relationship and they knew when things were confidential and were sensitive and that she would not comment but when she had information she could provide she would. They had a good amount of respect between them and it worked very well.

Member Crawford asked if there was anything that could interfere with her effectiveness as a City Manager?

Ms. Conley thought the things that could interfere with any one’s effectiveness is the lack of communication or a clear understanding of what direction and where people are going. Another would be the lack of support of the key players.

Member Crawford asked how she felt about residency requirements?

Ms. Conley thought there were arguments both ways. There are arguments for certain positions that might not warrant a residency requirement. There are arguments on both sides that you are more committed to a community and she did not think that was

necessarily true. If you are working hours from 8 am to 5 pm and you are in the community from 5 pm to 10 pm at night you are probably not doing a lot between 11 pm and the next morning that is with the community. She thought that residency requirements for personnel that are not key to emergency response or needed immediately in a crisis situation is probably not necessary.

Member Crawford asked about department heads including City Managers?

Ms. Conley did not see a problem with requiring the City Manager to live in the City. The City Manager is the key focus point; they are not an elected official but do serve in a pretty high capacity and should be accessible.

Mayor Clark asked, in her opinion, whoever the new City Manager might be what would be the single most important attribute that person would have to possess to be a success in that position?

Ms. Conley thought first and foremost they would have to be a good communicator, which includes listening.

Mayor Clark asked what are personal and professional qualifications she felt she had that were most important and would qualify her to be the next City Manager?

Ms. Conley thought that from a professional standpoint she had been a City Manager previously and knew what it was like. She knew the commitment it took, she wanted to do it and enjoyed doing it. She has a well rounded background that would be an asset to this community and has a hands on working knowledge of what is taking place in the community, what its growing pains are and the issues facing this community. From a personal standpoint she took a lot of pride in what she does. She thought her whole attitude in how she approached working relationships with employees, how she approached residents and how she worked as an individual really are assets that would be an asset to her in this position and to the community as a whole.

Ms. Conley said this really is a great community and she would be honored to be the City Manager for this community and thought she could make a lot of positive changes.

COUNCIL DISCUSSION: Interview Porcess

Member Bononi said any or all of these candidates might be wonderful candidates but she thought doing these in a piece meal way with an open ended attitude is not allowing Council to compare these people against each other. She is also concerned about courtesy interviews in house and whether or not an ending would be put on the courtesy interviews. This is very time intensive with regard to in house persons who do not have the qualifications but would be interviewed out of courtesy. She thought that should have a date of accomplishment on it.

Member Bononi would also like to see all of the resumes at one time so that Council could look at them the same way they did. She felt this was partially a function of the fact that this process is open ended. She stated she had great concerns about that to begin with and thought it was coming to fruition. She was concerned about a lack of control here and the inability of Council to see and discuss all these applications together.

Mayor Pro Tem Lorenzo stated she shared some of those concerns as well and thought at some point Council needed to set a time limit.

Member Kramer thought Council had that more or less in hand. Council had set up three dates and was looking to move on with the process. He thought that by January 29th they would be through with phase one. He stated, in his opinion, there was a sufficient number of candidates.

Member Bononi said her concern was that a sufficient number of candidates did not mean a sufficient number of high quality candidates. She said receiving these applications by way of referrals is fine but she thought the situation needed to be a little more formalized.

Member DeRoche thought what all the Council Members was saying made sense. He thought there was a pool of qualified candidates to consider. He said going into the second interview phase and things were not working out it could be reopened. He felt a month and a week past the date there has been sufficient time for new candidates. After seeing the caliber of some of these people that have been interviewed he was perfectly comfortable focusing on what is at hand. There has been sufficient time why no say we are done now?

Ms. Gronlund-Fox stated now she can say that the first round of interview dates are set and that is it. She felt it was her responsibility to still send Council resumes that come in after the cut off but she would not send them if they did not want to see them.

Member Csordas said these people are very high quality and they might accept another position if things take too long.

Tony Nowicki

Mr. Nowicki handed out letters of recommendation and asked Council to read them at their leisure.

Member Csordas asked why he was applying for this position?

Mr. Nowicki stated he had the second best job now as Director of Public Services. He stated he was doing this out of dedication to the community. He has been in Novi for ten years and has worked very hard for this community and knew it well. He thought he could provide positive leadership for the community and looked forward to having the opportunity to do that.

Member Csordas asked how he would describe his leadership style and would he consider himself to be either a driver personality, analytical personality or amicable or all of the above?

Mr. Nowicki said his management style centers on participation. He liked to keep people involved as part of the decision making process. He would have to look at the individual being dealt with and the situation at hand. If there is an emergency a meeting

 

cannot be called to come to a consensus on what to do; a decision would have to be made and he stated he would be capable of doing that. It depended on the individual because all individuals do not respond and behave the same way so the manager has to tailor make their management styles towards that individual to make sure that they get the most out of that individual.

Member Csordas asked if he was offered and accepted this position would he like his departmental managers to have a similar management style or one of the other personality styles?

Mr. Nowicki would like to see them as close to his management style as possible but each individual functions differently and each department functions differently. He said it depended on the specific department.

Member Csordas asked what he thought the major issue was facing Council and the new City Manager?

Mr. Nowicki said there were a lot of well publicized issues but he thought the critical issue was regaining the trust and confidence of the public. He thought that trust and confidence was lacking.

Member Csordas said the anticipated build out of the City is 2020 and asked what his philosophy was toward the continued growth and build out of the City.

Mr. Nowicki said there is a Master Plan and it is guiding the growth of the community. He thought the Master Plan had to be reviewed on a periodic basis to make sure that it actually reflected the goals of the community and the Master Plan should be followed.

Member Csordas asked if he was offered and accepted this position what would his first goal be?

Mr. Nowicki said the first task would be to sit down with Council and make sure that he understood the goals and objectives that Council had established and then move in that direction. Secondly, it is budget time and he would get a handle on the budget and move forward.

Member Bononi asked if he was a professional engineer?

Mr. Nowicki said he was not.

Member Bononi asked how he thought the trust with the residents was lost?

Mr. Nowicki thought the loss of the trust and confidence of the community occurred over a number of years. He did not think it was one specific individual incident and it happened over a series of time and it would take time to rebuild it. He thought there had to be openness in the administration, work closer with the people and bring them in and get them involved. He thought the trust would be regained.

 

 

Member Bononi asked how his previous municipal assignment with the City of Monroe prepared him for the position of City Manager? She said he had not served as a City Manager but did have extensive municipal experience. How did the sum and substance of those posts prepare him to become a City Manager?

Mr. Nowicki said in the operation of Monroe as well as the City of Roseville and this community, he had served in the position of Director of Public Services. As Director of Public Services he oversaw a number of operating departments. In Novi it is the Water and Sewer, D.P.W. He had also overseen the Building Department, Code Enforcement, Forestry and the Geographic Information System. All these various sub-departments reported to him and he provided the leadership for all these departments. They prepare their own specific individual budgets and have their own operating policies that he reviews; very much like the City Manager would oversee the entire operation of the City he oversaw the operation of the sub-departments that he has.

Member Bononi asked what he liked most about his current position?

Mr. Nowicki said there was a lot that he liked about it. It is the number two position in this City. It is demanding and yet fun. He was probably one of the few people in the community that whereever he went he could see something that his department had a finger in. It is something that they built, helped design or put together. He enjoyed working with the people and seeing a sense of accomplishment and seeing the goals that the Council and Manager established come to reality.

Member Bononi asked what he liked least about his current position?

Mr. Nowicki said at times it was having to say no. He related something that happened a number of years ago in the wintertime where snow was not plowed along bike paths and sidewalks along mile roads. It was his unfortunate responsibility to tell members of the public that it was contrary to operational policies. He would have liked very much to have gone out there and expanded the role of the department and the services but unfortunately the budget perimeters were not there and it could not be done.

Member Bononi asked if he was hired as City Manager what would be the first two administrative things that he would do?

Mr. Nowicki said he would undertake a complete review of the organization. Starting with the operation of this particular building to see how it could be reorganized or restructured as needed with an eye towards efficiency. Secondly, he would look at the role of consultants in this operation and see how they interface with the various departments and where they should not interface with the various departments. Lastly, compile a comprehensive plan for operational policies with an eye towards risk management; putting them together and perhaps have a professional consultant come in and take a look at the policies, strengthen them and with an eye toward risk management.

Member Bononi asked what he would do with the $600,000 plus short fall amount owed to the General Fund from the ice arena?

 

Mr. Nowicki said there is a new management company at the ice arena. It is his understanding that they are on their way right now to repaying that $600,000. They are starting to show a profit and he thought they should stay the course. The programs put in place to help the ice arena get itself out of its financial situation appear to be working.

Member Bononi asked how long he thought it would take to pay that loan?

Mr. Nowicki said they had to make sure that they are in a profit making mode and that they are turning a profit to help repay this. It would depend on the profit margin and the amount of money they were making to know how long it would take. He felt it was encumbant upon us to assist that company in turning a profit.

Member Bononi asked if he had ever discharged anyone, when it occurred and what were the circumstances?

Mr. Nowicki said he had discharged a number of people and it was very unpleasant. However, sometimes it had to be done after due investigation and an opportunity for that employee to improve their performance. When that does not happen then it is time for the community to cut their losses and discharge the employee.

Member Bononi asked if that happened during his tenure with the City of Novi?

Mr. Nowicki said it did.

Member DeRoche said there are many people in the city that might argue that there needed to be some positive changes in the City Administration. He asked Mr. Nowicki what he would do to instill confidence in this Council and the citizens at large that he could be an agent of positive change being that he already worked for the organization that they want to see changed?

Mr. Nowicki said he would have to identify what the change is and then create that environment to accomplish that change. Part of creating that environment is making sure that all the people that are affected or impacted be it the community or the organization understands what the change is, the need for the change and how that change would occur. He thought that was the Manager’s responsibility.

Member DeRoche asked what it would take to get the employees in the City of Novi operating as a team under his leadership?

Mr. Nowicki said the Team Novi Spirit had to be re-ignited. He thought right now to motivate the employees they had to understand that their boss would listen to them, that they have an open door policy willing to accept them as individuals and employees knowing that they have some creative juices flowing in them. He said giving the employee the latitude to explore new areas, to become creative, to use those creative juices but yet not penalize them if they make a mistake.

Member DeRoche asked him if it was his aspiration to be a City Manager someday or is it your aspiration just to be the City Manager of Novi?

 

Mr. Nowicki said his aspiration is to be the Novi City Manager. Novi is a premiere community and he had worked for Novi for almost ten years and has dedicated all of his effort and energy towards improving the quality of life for this community and accomplishing the goals that the Council and Manager had established. This is the community that he would like to stay in, to serve in and the community that he thought he could help.

Member DeRoche asked him to tell about a time when his performance did not meet his own expectations and what he learned from it?

Mr. Nowicki said most of the members of Council would remember when there was a city wide refuse collection program that ultimately wound up on the ballot. He was very new to his career in Novi and worked long and hard with a community committee that put together a pretty comprehensive collection program and a contract. Eventually the concept of that program went to the public for a vote. It was turned down and he learned at that time that he really did not understand the dynamics of the community and how the community responded to some of the issues. He thought people just coming into this community do not realize how the residents of Novi react and respond to certain issues. He thought if he had been there a little longer and understood the people at that time he could have convinced the residents that it was a good program. It did provide a service and the benefits that they needed.

Mr. Nowicki said he was new to the community and did not have the contacts. He did not know the homeowner’s associations as he does now. He has taken it upon himself to be available to the homeowners associations to work with them. He said he went regularly to their meetings and answers the questions that they have and allow the community to put him on the spot with their questions.

Mayor Pro Tem Lorenzo asked if he had initiated or implemented any human resource or departmental policies that have saved the City money or provided greater efficiency?

Mr. Nowicki said definitely. There are a couple of programs that have been implemented that saved the community money. One right off the top for this community is he initiated a quality based selection process for consultants when entering into contracts under federal and state programs. Previous to that the City of Novi had contracted with their municipal consultants for the engineering services on federal and state contracts. Unfortunately, without bidding these services out that total liability for the costs fell right upon the community. With the implementation of Q.B.S. that he spearheaded they are now able to go out for competitive bids for engineering contracts on these programs and receive at least 80% funding for the engineering costs.

Mr. Nowicki said in another community he was the manager of an airport. After reviewing the operations he determined that the services provided by that airport would best be done by the private sector. The services for the airport were contracted out and moved in that direction. This operation was in the red when he took it and it turned a profit the next year just by privatizing the operation.

Mayor Pro Tem Lorenzo asked how the City could more effectively handle risk management?

Mr. Nowicki felt one of the first things that should be done was to pull together an operations program and policy for the community and have it analyzed by a professional risk manager. He said the City does have insurance companies and people who come in periodically and review the City operations with respect to some of the risks. However, he did not think it was comprehensive enough. He thought the financial aspect of the community had to be looked at with respect to risk as well as the operational aspect of it. He said this a time and age when options have to be considered and that the community is well protected.

Mayor Pro Tem Lorenzo asked when he empowered an employee and the employee’s decision resulted or contributed to either a financial loss for the City, an embarrassing situation or less than quality development projects what would he do and would there be any consequences?

Mr. Nowicki said first the defect or poor quality would have to be determined. What resulted in that and work from there. If the employee requires training or counseling then it needs to be offered. He would see where the performance could be improved. He would make sure the employee was appropriately assigned the task or should it have been handled by another employee or by another department. If the employee was rightfully assigned the task, was unable to function, went through counseling, went through training and was not satisfying the requirements and not meeting expectations then it would be time to cut our losses.

Mayor Pro Tem Lorenzo asked if a Council Member or the Mayor shared some information with you that could be relevant to a future decision would you share this information with the rest of the Council or would you expect the Council Member or Mayor to share that information?

Mr. Nowicki said he would consult with the Mayor or the individual Council Member or whoever had this information that was supposedly being withheld from the rest of the Council. He would give them the opportunity to make that information public and known to the other Council Members or whoever it might be. Lacking that, he said he would have to bring it to Council’s attention.

Mayor Pro Tem Lorenzo asked if the City was the unsuccessful party in a lawsuit and he had not discussed it with Council yet and the media contacted him how would he respond?

Mr. Nowicki said first he would have to discuss it with Council. Council would have to be the first to know what the outcome is of litigation before he talked with the media or anyone else. After that, the media is entitled to the information providing that it is appropriate and the Judge had not issued a disclosure order on it. If it were appropriate to speak about the litigation, issue and the outcome then he would do it. He would answer the questions honestly and truthfully.

Mayor Pro Tem Lorenzo asked what aspects of the City Manager’s position would he most enjoy?

Mr. Nowicki said it would definitely be working with the Mayor, Council and the public towards realizing the goals they have established.

Mayor Pro Tem Lorenzo asked what he would enjoy least?

Mr. Nowicki said it would be telling people no. He said sometimes he would have to but he is here to help serve the public, further the goals and to help make this a quality community to live in but unfortunately sometimes the word no had to be used.

Mayor Pro Tem Lorenzo asked if potentially contaminating materials were illegally dumped on City property by City employees how would he handle it?

Mr. Nowicki said first would be to take immediate corrective action and make sure that any contamination did not spread and that the issues been remediated. Then a full and complete investigation would have to ensue to determine the decision making process that was involved in the dumping and move on from there. If disciplinary action is required then we take it. Once the issue is disposed of and taken care of then we move on.

Mayor Pro Tem Lorenzo asked if there was an allegation of sexual harassment within a department how would you approach the situation?

Mr. Nowicki said it would be approached confidentially, aggressively and immediately.

There would have to be a complete investigation, find out what happened and make sure that all parties were represented in accordance with the union contracts and take action as necessary.

Mayor Pro Tem Lorenzo asked if there was sufficient evidence would any disciplinary action be taken?

Mr. Nowicki said it would depend on the incident. If the evidence was there that a specific infraction had occurred or violation of the law then disciplinary action would have to be taken.

Mr. Nowicki said if it was a flagrant violation then the department head should be aware but these incidences seldom occur in full view of a department head. He did know that through training and policies that all employees should be aware that that type of behavior is unacceptable and the department head should take action.

Mayor Pro Tem Lorenzo asked if there should be any consequences for the department head if he or she was unaware of the behavior taking place?

Mr. Nowicki said it depended on the incident. Why was he/she unaware? Was something happening right before them that they did not pick up or did not recognize? If that were the case then they would have to be counseled and trained.

Member Crawford asked what his experience was with budget preparation, dealing with the media, human resources and computer experience?

Mr. Nowicki said he reviews his department heads budgets, makes cuts, makes allocations and does whatever needed to be done to make sure they meet the City

 

Manager’s standards and his directives. He also prepares his own budgets as well. He said he had extensive budget experience and had been doing them since 1981.

Mr. Nowicki said lately dealing with the news media has been pretty frequent. He felt it had worked out well. He said he provided the news media with the information they needed in an honest and timely manner. He felt he had developed a very good rapport with the local newspaper even though they have had some personnel changes he had managed to keep up with those changes and establish relationships with reporters.

Mr. Nowicki said he had been involved as a management team on union negotiations back to about 1982-83. Every year since then he handled, along with the Human Resources Department, the grievances or other problems that come up. He stated he was well aware of the contracts and contract verbiage and had been dealing with the Human Resources issue for quite some time.

Mr. Nowicki said he liked computers. He said the concept of the Geographic Information System was his and he also brought it to reality. It is an impressive system in the Department of Public Services and it is being used citywide. They started off with just the basic concept that he had, secured the services at relatively affordable rates from Wayne State University to help design the system and come up with the software, make hardware recommendations and do the data collection. Not long ago Oakland County changed their Geographic system, software and the programs they were operating and converted to what Novi is doing. He thought Novi was the leader in the county on Geographic Information Systems. He said he is well versed with computers, what they do, what their capabilities are and excited about the technology.

Member Crawford asked if he talked with water and D.P.W. people what would they say about him?

Mr. Nowicki thought they would say that he is a fair person. That if they had concerns or problems they are free to contact him and talk to him and talk issues out. He thought they would say he was ethical, honest and very hard working.

Member Crawford asked how he felt about residency requirements from City Manager on down?

Mr. Nowicki thought the City Manager should definitely be a resident of the community. With respect to the rest of the staff, as long as the response time is handled and the good of the community is provided for he did not think that was a necessity. He said especially with the employees that are on the lower wage scale it becomes increasingly difficult to find affordable housing and it would place an undue hardship on the employees.

Member Crawford asked if there was anything that could interfere with his duties as City Manager?

Mr. Nowicki said no. He said his personal and professional lives are in tune. His family has grown accustomed to not seeing him sometimes all week because of the meetings here in the evenings. He felt he was prepared to be the City Manager.

Member Kramer asked what his approach would be as City Manager to increasing outreach to the community and citizen participation in government processes?

Mr. Nowicki said it would be the same way he started. Basically, attending homeowner association meetings and bring a face of government to the people and them know who we are. In part we are able to gain their trust and confidence through these homeowner association meetings and public meetings. He said once they gain confidence back in this government and know who people are they would become involved. He said he was starting to see that. In fact, since his name appeared in the paper that he was a candidate for the City Manager position he has had countless people calling him. He was starting to see a little glimmer of hope in some of the public and offers to participate in this government; people who have never before participated in the process.

Member Kramer asked how he would go about encouraging, creating, developing, achieving initiative and innovation within the organization?

Mr. Nowicki thought you would have to foster some confidence and trust in the employees and allow them to experiment and to allow them to look in areas as well as providing some ideas to the employees. He said a lot of the initiative, though it comes from management, is actually built on and continued by the employees. They have to know that they have the freedom to look around, to experiment and to see what is new without fearing failure. He thought that would come. Right now when people are afraid of failure they are afraid of retribution and afraid of being penalized for making a mistake and their creative juices are stifled.

Member Kramer asked how his education and previous experience would be beneficial to him as City Manager?

Mr. Nowicki said his previous experience would tie in to the City of Novi. Again, right now he oversees and has overseen the Building Department, Forestry, Water and Sewer, D.P.W., Geographic Information System, the Infrastructure Construction Program and is basically the emergency management coordinator for the entire community. He said he interfaces virtually with every department in this community. He said he knew the workings, the nuts and bolts of just about every community and worked very well with all the departments. He said other than the City Manager he worked with all the department heads more than anyone else and it was the same way in the other communities he worked for. He said he was very much parallel to the operation in Novi.

Mr. Nowicki said he had a Masters Degree in Public Administration from Central Michigan University and he received it in 1990.

Member Kramer asked what his greatest professional accomplishment was and why?

Mr. Nowicki thought the greatest professional accomplishment he had had would be here in Novi and it would be the Infrastructure Construction Program. Since 1990 this community, under his general supervision, has constructed over $50 million worth of projects such as road projects, water projects, sewer projects, bicycle paths or whatever the case might be. He has had hardly a complaint from the community on these

projects and most of them went very smooth. In 1990 when he took over the program he instituted public informational meetings as part of their construction projects. Prior to that the projects were designed and eventually constructed. He instituted public informational meetings as an outreach program to let the public know what was happening, to get them involved in the process and to let them review the designs before they got to Council and let them see how it would impact their personal property and let them have some input into the design. He said it was his philosophy that a project just is not a project between two lines or lines on a paper it has impact on the abutting homeowners. He said that project had to be looked at to make sure that the impact on the private property owners is not negative.

As part of that infrastructure program he had instituted, along with Council’s help and concurrence, a public/private partnership wherein a developer is going into an area where there is a Master Planned use, for example, water line and a good example is the Haggerty corridor water main. He said it was on the Capitol Improvement Program to construct a water main along Haggerty Road from Twelve to Fourteen Mile Roads. The developer was in there doing work on his own developing his own site and the water main was needed and his time table was a little sooner than ours and with Council’s approval they entered into an agreement with this private developer that saved the City approximately $350,000 by having the developer do that work. He said this had been done on a number of occasions and he would say they had probably saved this community and the ratepayers for the water and sewer system close to a million dollars in these public/private partnerships.

Mr. Nowicki said one of the most recent accomplishments was that he met this week with the Road Commission for Oakland County. As Council knows we have been debating and discussing the Twelve Mile Road improvements and just this week he had managed to receive a commitment from the Road Commission for Oakland County that they would take the lead in building the gap from McDonalds to Meadowbrook Road. Right now with the Road Commission for Oakland County taking that lead that would reduce our costs. He said it was normally a 20% local share and since they are taking the lead they will pick up 10% and Novi will pick up 10%. The cost of that project is estimated now at about $3.5 million, which brings Novi’s share to about $350,000.

He said it looked like they would be able to accelerate that program from years out in the future and are looking at a realistic construction date of 2003.

Ms. Gronlund-Fox asked if he was hired as City Manager what would be his most challenging undertaking to begin with and why?

Mr. Nowicki said it would be regaining the trust and confidence of the community and it was an aspect he looked forward to and would enjoy.

Ms. Gronlund-Fox asked if she were to ask all the people that know him well, both professionally and personally, to describe him in three words what words would they choose?

Mr. Nowicki said they would choose ethical, dedicated and professional. Mr. Nowicki said they would choose those words because he is an ethical individual, he does not take advantage of situations and has specific ethical standards that he lived by both

publicly and privately. He said he adhered to those standards and people who know him know that.

He said he is dedicated. He is here before everybody and usually leaves after everyone. He said he spent a lot of time in this community including weekends and is dedicated to this community and has been for over nine years.

Mr. Nowicki believed he conducted himself very professionally in his conduct and everything else he does with the community.

Ms. Gronlund-Fox asked what the words work ethic and integrity mean to him?

Mr. Nowicki said it was something he lived by here. It is putting the interest and the well being of the community above and beyond and before his personal interests. He said it was something his family had come to understand and accept. He said integrity and honesty is where your feet and your mouth are doing the same thing and going in the same direction. He thought his co-workers and associates would support him in his statements.

Mayor Clark asked what his major personal and professional qualities were that the job of City Manager required?

Mr. Nowicki said dedication and commitment to the well being of this community. He said the City Manager had to be self-motivated, open-minded and a fair individual.

Mayor Clark asked what he would say was the most single important attribute that whoever the new City Manager might be would have to possess to be successful in that position?

Mr. Nowicki said that individual would have to be an ethical individual.

Mr. Nowicki said he appreciated the opportunity to interview and would be honored to be the next City Manager.

ADJOURNMENT

CM-00-06-371 Moved by Crawford, seconded by Lorenzo; CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY: To adjourn the meeting at 10:48 PM

Vote on CM-00-06-371 Yeas: Clark, Bononi, Crawford, Csordas, DeRoche,

Kramer, Lorenzo

Nays: None

 

 

 

 

______________________________ _______________________________

Richard J. Clark, Mayor Tonni L. Bartholomew, City Clerk

 

 

Transcribed by: _________________________

Charlene Mc Lean

 

Date Approved: January 24, 2000