View Agenda for this Meeting
SPECIAL MEETING OF THE COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF NOVI
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 26, 2000, AT 9:00 AM
COUNCIL CHAMBERS Ė NOVI CIVIC CENTER Ė 45175 W. TEN MILE ROAD
Mayor Clark called the meeting to order at 9:16 a.m.
PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
ROLL CALL: Mayor Clark, Mayor ProTem Lorenzo, Council Members Bononi, Crawford, Csordas, DeRoche (arrived 10:25 A.M.) and Kramer
Craig Klaver, Acting City Manager
Tia Gronlund-Fox, Human Resource Specialist
AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION - None
PURPOSE OF SPECIAL MEETING Ė second round interviews for City Manager
RICHARD HELWIG Ė Dublin, Ohio
Mayor Clark asked if there was anything Mr. Helwig wanted to bring to Councilís attention.
Mr. Helwig said he and his wife wanted to thank Council for their hospitality Friday evening. He felt it was very helpful in providing insights into the community that you cannot receive in other ways.
Mayor Pro-Tem Lorenzo began by stating she felt it was important to have dialog as well as questions.
Mr. Helwig thanked her for the opportunity. He also asked her to accept the spirit of the questions regarding the decision Council is making for the betterment of the community. He understands they are trying to find a fit for the community, and respects their knowledge of the community. He further stated there is a very real issue of trust between this government body and community and between Council and staff. Mr. Helwig stated if there is not any trust it is very hard to accomplish what you wish to accomplish for the betterment of the community, if you do not have trust, in huge abundance, day after day. He understands it is on the move in the right direction, and Friday night reaffirms the feeling. He has known Mr. Jim Bacon, who attended the Council Meeting on Thursday, for several years. Their professional paths have crossed many times in Ohio and Illinois. Mr. Bacon called Mr. Helwig Thursday night to let him know the chemistry among Council members was very positive in decision making and policy work session. He would like to hear from each of the Council Members regarding the meeting, where the community has been and going concerning trust. He also understands as City Manager a large portion of this responsibility, to bring people together and doing what we say we are going to do would fall on his shoulders; it cannot be done alone. Council and he would be in it together.
Mayor Pro-Tem Lorenzo stated, from her perspective, there was a feeling in the community, previous to November, that there were some strong differences of opinion between the public in the community and the previous Council. After the November election, there was a fairly new Council. She feels they are working together very well; the healing process has begun. From both a Council perspective, in terms of how they collaborate together and also how they communicate with the citizens and administration, she looks at this as a beginning and feels very positive about the future of Novi at this point in time.
Councilmember Crawford agreed with many of Mayor Pro-Tem Lorenzoís comments. He further stated he served on Council since 1985, with many different Council members and four Mayors. This Council certainly has the potential of being the best Council he has been a part of. He feels that in the three months that the current Council has been together has made a change, in both the community perspective and amongst themselves as well. He also agrees that the Thursday Council Meeting about Tax Abatements, was a very positive example of where the Council is today from where they have come in the last couple of years.
Councilmember Csordas stated one of the good things about this City Council is that they may disagree about some issues and be at opposite ends of some issues, but when the vote is over and the decision has been made, they move on to the next issue without any acrimony. He also feels that overwhelmingly the citizens of the community trust the Council and Administration. This is a good community to live in and has been for a long time and is going in the correct direction.
Councilmember Bononi stated in answer to Mr. Helwigís question one of the most interesting and difficult things she has done in her life was to decide to run for public office. The main reason she chose to run, is she feels she is an effective communicator, and has participated in some form of government wherever she has lived. In speaking to the residents in the City of Novi, she learned there is a very real concern that they were not being heard. The trust issue comes after that. This is a very real question and concern; she also feels that the building of trust has begun. One item being done towards this is televising every possible meeting from the Council Chambers.
Council member Kramer also concurred that trust is the foundation on which a working relationship is built. Aside from the trust between community and government, it is equally important to have trust between the City Manager and Council. The Managers job is to have the expertise in running the government; Councilís job is to provide policy and direction.
Mr. Klaver agreed with many of the Council memberís comments regarding trust. He feels it is a critical part of their ability to deliver the goals that Council establishes. Mr. Klaver also agrees that there have been issues and problems based on what has happened in the last four or five years.
Mayor Clark commented that trust is an issue, but trust is always an issue in government. He further stated the recent election indicated that the more you open the process, the more trust is generated in the community. The citizens than feel they are an integral part of the process. It is easier to engender a spirit of cooperation community wide when the community feels the process is open. He has instituted Mayors hours on Saturday for the citizensí convenience and thinks it has made a large difference being able to talk to a representative of their government. Mayor Clark continued that trust is earned, and must be continually earned on a daily basis. He commended the current Council for working in the spirit of cooperation to move the community forward and make it the best possible community that they can. The Councilís goal is to work with the Manager in the spirit of cooperation to make Novi a premier community.
Mayor Pro-Tem Lorenzo asked Mr. Helwig how involved does he believe he should be in the supervision of the Police and Fire Departments?
Mr. Helwig responded that he would be accountable for the performance of the organization and the people on leadership roles. One item he has spoken about with Mr. Klaver is, and has been a successful style of his throughout his career, that there is a Chief Operating Officer, borrowed from the business model. The Chief Operating Officer takes over the day to day operational issues, many of which take place in the Public Safety Department. He is use to having the Chief Operating Officer spend a lot of time with the Police and Fire Chief; this gives two levels or executive review on important matters. In Dayton, Ohio, they had weekly Council meetings on Wednesday. He found it helpful on every Friday before the meeting, to meet with the entire leadership team to go over the agenda and any issues of note. They also had an Administrative Policy Group that would formulate alternatives for City Council. He has done this in each City he has served in and found it successful. Supervision comes in many forms and he must hold the administration all accountable.
Mayor Pro-Tem Lorenzo asked what is his philosophy and approach for setting compensation and how does he feel this fits in the budget process?
Mr. Helwig answered that in todayís time, good people are at a premium. His philosophy is he would like to have the fewest number of people and pay them as well as they can possibly pay them. This is to retain them; the experience base can serve you well. As for the budget process, he has primarily used Hay Associates as a way to evaluate the value of a position. He than sends the ranges to Council and an overall policy of where does Council want to peg the salaries in the market place and the City Manager has the flexibility to place people in those ranges. With the Administrative staff he develops merit performance based compensation system; people are not getting increases for showing up, it is tied to results.
Mayor Pro-Tem Lorenzo inquired if he believed employee attitude surveys are effective and had he been involved in them?
Mr. Helwig responded he has been involved in the surveys, and thinks any way you can get feedback is important. Surveys can be a flop; dialog on a regular basis in all types of settings is what is important.
Council Member Bononi stated a famous theologian said he learned just about everything he needed to know in Kindergarten. Mr. Helwigís resume indicates he received a MPA at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard and asked him what he did not learn there that he thinks he should have learned there.
He does not feel that dealing with people and issues is learned through reading and discussing case studies. What is needed is an amalgamation of experience; he is offering his experience with large city management roles and serving a premier community such as Dublin. It is hands on interaction with people, gathering lifeís experiences, taking risks, fighting for your community and doing it in a way that is believable and trusting; people to people, going to school and church in the community.
Council Member Bononi also asked about the choice or comparison between tax abatement and an incentive package proposal? She is particularly interested in the proposal in the material submitted with Mr. Helwigís regarding Cardinal Health.
Mr. Helwig responded Cardinal Health is headquartered in Dublin. The CEO lives a mile from the headquarters, along a road that did not exist two years ago, that is adjacent to the Cardinal Health building. The road was built with the use of tax increment financing, by dedicating an increment of the property taxes, paid by the new investment on the property, to building things the public will benefit from. In this instance, the road has been used for some open space, additions to the community such as turning lanes, and signalized intersections. Payback standards are normally five or six years. What Dublin was faced with in the Cardinal Health Company, they have one building and could add a similar sized building on the west campus requiring rezoning. They also wished for an incentive package. Dublin worked out incentives. Based on their growth and salaries, they will receive a grant payment, in four installments, over a certain period of time. The grant worked out to just over two million dollars, after it was netted out. Cardinal also donated property for parkland and a tax increment financing agreement. They also received a rezoning.
Member Bononi asked about parkland ratio to city area? She felt those 338 acres of parks for 32 square miles of city seems small. She asked Mr. Helwig if he was happy with the ratio.
Mr. Helwig replied you could never have enough open space. It is an asset to have parkland in the City or nearby. In Dublin, they are establishing a Northwest Metro Park, minimum of 800 acres that could easily double. This too has been his responsibility.
Council Member Bononi than asked about Main Street development, whether existing or currently being designed and developed. How would he respond to rezonings that are not consistent with the Master Plan and tend to cannibalize the Main Street development as far as to itís future is concerned.
He referenced the adopted community plan in Dublin that is followed 98 percent of the time. There are always unique surprises that no one can foresee, many times they work out better than what was envisioned. If the Master Plan is solidly based, with a lot of community input, it is there to guide the community. The communities that are distinguishing themselves across America are the ones that stay the course with a clear vision of what they want to be and what it takes to get there. Novi has something special; keep the plan going.
Council Member Csordas asked how he would go about performing the job of City Manager.
Mr. Helwig responded that he has been in the business for a few years and thinks initially that a lot of time is spent listening and relating to people, be it staff, Council or the community. Relationships need to be built while you are finding out what the assets, issues and expectations are. Each year, as part of a budget document, he has always proposed accomplishments for the upcoming year. With Councilís blessing, they are built into the performance agreements with staff and are able to line up resources to complete the job. This is a daily task that takes dedication and accountability by all the staff. He hopes that his track record for producing results is worthy of their consideration.
Council Member Csordas than queried Mr. Helwig what it would take for a person to be successful in performing the job he is applying for?
Mr. Helwig responded they had touched on that before and appreciated his candor at the outset about the setting. The setting needs to be a positive, focused on results; everyone will do their part in a constructive way. He has found that it is very easy to get distracted with destructive people. He will spend some time with them for a while, they are due that time, but eventually their paths will part and the focus will be on the people who want to accomplish what Council wants to. He has mentioned previously his strong desire to have a Chief Operating Officer, someone who will convey the same representation of Council issues and their approach to solving those issues. What you are receiving with him is someone who is coming to Michigan because he wishes to be with his wife and her family here. He is not looking to do something else in two to three years. He is very loyal, not a job hopper. He would be putting his roots down here, it is important to feel the community.
Member Csordas asked if the CEO (Chief Operating Officer) is the same as the Assistant City Manager?
Mr. Helwig stated, yes, that is another name for it. It is his understanding, after speaking with Mr. Klaver, that he is spending 80 percent of his time on human resource work. With the issues and opportunities facing Novi, having a 100 percent dedicated Human Resource Director is warranted. With the issues that need attending, the organization needs someone 100 percent of the time, not 20 percent.
Council Member Csordas asked for information on how Mr. Helwig makes important decisions and to give an example.
Mr. Helwig responded he will use Cardinal Health again; form a team of people, do not go it alone; include the Finance Director, and Economic Development person. Keeping Council appraised along the way, doing homework, brain storming, relate it to past precedent in the organization, and try to go through a check list of formal and informal direction from the City Council, to make sure we are in synch with the letter and spirit of that direction. In the end if neither stands up and is accountable for the recommendation, try to have alternatives, so you are not presented with all or nothing. For example a key issue with Cardinal, there is a stream/ravine that runs along the western edge of the property. They ended up using a local group, Heritage Group, with a history of working with conservation easements. There was fashioned a formal portion of the agreement in terms of a number of heritage trees, groves of trees that were all staked out and reached a compromise. Cardinal was very sensitive to the environment and the making sure it was done in a very high quality way. Making sure you have the perspective and participation at the outset and are not blind-sided by something that would halt progress.
Council Member Csordas spoke of Mr. Helwig addressing risks earlier and asked him to explain what risks he had taken in his last job and what was the result of those risks?
Mr. Helwig again mentioned that Cardinal Health was a risk, it was the largest incentive package at that time ever offered any corporation. Since than they have heard from Quest, who has put it on hold, they were the preferred finalists going to their investment committee. They had taken risks in putting the package together for Quest, who than requested more; this had to be justified to Council. In this instance, staff was not recommending that they do any more than what was done for Cardinal Health. If you ask anyone, they will tell you that I am a risk taker, not wild and crazy, but not a status quo individual.
Council Member Csordas asked if Mr. Helwig were offered the City Manager position, would he move to Novi?
Mr. Helwig answered yes.
Council Member Csordas asked what he felt he brings to this job that the others do not?
Mr. Helwig responded, as he said earlier, his track record and experience base in larger cities, in the City Manager role. He has enjoyed focusing on quality, managing growth issues and the gratification of building a community. He is familiar with the challenges of getting larger, getting more complex and he knows how to manage those challenges. At the same time, he feels he would bring an eye for quality and distinctiveness that matches what Novi is all about.
Council Member Kramer stated in past discussions they had spoken of Mr. Helwig using CIP as a management and policy document and asked him to briefly explain CIP?
Mr. Helwig stated that to him it is very important, it goes back to the Master Planning discussion about charting a course where you are going. Council always reserves the right to alter that course. It is to have a five-year blueprint, for what you aspire to achieve. To him this is a very powerful policy direction from Council and updating it annually by peeling off the current year and adding a new fifth year. He has found this to be very helpful.
Member Kramer asked how he would look for sources of funding and how would he accomplish this within the organization? Whose responsibility is it to look for sources of funding, and how is this handled within his operating responsibilities?
Mr. Helwig answered it depends upon what is at stake. As policy is being formulated, what is it you are trying to accomplish for the community, is it a unique opportunity, is it a one time thing, is it something that will be occurring every year?
Member Kramer rephrased the question and asked if this would this be done as a personal assignment or would he look to any specific area of administration to take on this kind of task?
Mr. Helwig stated he would be involved in it, perhaps the Economic Development person would have the actual lead or there may be a dedicated staff. You put together the resources, people, dollars, and time to get the results needed.
Council Member Kramer asked Mr. Helwig what is his experience and posture concerning managing risk in city operations.
He responded it is an inherent part of making decisions and you are looking at an outside entity to do an appraisal of our risk exposure and policies. It is all to the good to take stock and ask if there are blind spots in our work. His past experience is to appoint a City Law Department, appointed and held accountable by the Manager. When a person is focused on one City, you reap dividends. You will need special counsel for various things. This legal counsel is key in helping measure risks and making good recommendations to the policy body.
Council Member Kramer stated Mr. Helwig has completed thirty years of public service with Ohio and asked what are his employment expectations with Novi.
Mr. Helwig responded that he cannot even think about the word retirement, it does not fit him. At this stage in his life he feels he has flexibility to do what he is seeking to do. He is looking to stay in southeast Michigan; this is where he wants to be.
Council Member Kramer than asked what his thoughts are on public sector versus private sector competition for parks and recreation facilities, pools etc.?
Mr. Helwig responded there is a lot of experience out there, he would not want to make a broad-brush judgement, and some privately run facilities are done very well. There is always room for analysis, pros and cons, and judgement as to what ends up being in the best interest of the community. He further explained he has learned over time, it is important for a community to be as self-sufficient in a dollar wise manner. The bottom line is we are accountable for services to residents.
Council Member Kramer asked what he feels is the best way to communicate with residents, his thoughts on a community newsletter and cable television?
Mr. Helwig responded what he has seen being done with cable is very positive and convenient for residents. Newsletters are great for passing along association meeting dates. It is mainly making the effort to extend yourself.
Council Member Crawford asked what is his experience in putting together bonding proposals and his success or failures of those.
Mr. Helwig responded that his experience has been different, the bulk of his service has been in Ohio, and the bread and butter revenue source is city income taxes. In Dayton there is a Charter requirement that the City income tax had to be renewed. It was voted on every five years by the residents, and could go away if you did not perform and remain accountable to the community. They needed to constantly remind the citizens what was accomplished and related to their needs. As far as packaging a road bond issue, he has never done that; it has always come out of capital dollars from city income tax or issuing unvoted general obligation debt. His experience relates to that. The citizens need to be involved in what you are asking for and there also has to be a sense of timing. Recapping, it is building the partnerships, telling the story, putting together an information campaign strategy, and personal contact.
Council Member Crawford stated that Novi has a few remnants of historic buildings/properties to preserve. Does he have any experience in historic preservation and what is his philosophy in doing this?
Mr. Helwig enjoys working with historic areas and believes in them and they add dimension to the community. He was involved in setting up all seven historic districts in Dayton. In Elgin there was two established, and in Dublin they are in the process of setting up a historical town center for the community. History can be buildings, culture, open space, and the natural features in the community and can be in many forms.
Mayor Clark asked Mr. Helwig what relationship does he think should exist between city officials and the school administration?
Mr. Helwig answered in his humble opinion and experience you cannot talk about being a quality community without first rate schools; it is an uphill challenge. In Dublin, they meet with the Superintendent almost monthly to go over different issues and cooperation on facilities. They are very supportive of one another.
Mayor Clark asked if a single Council member came to him with an assignment that is contrary to a policy that Council already announced how would he deal with this situation.
Mr. Helwig responded he would first try to discuss the situation not being in keeping with Councilís wishes, and if they wish to seek change, or have Administration do something different, the project would need to be presented at a Council Meeting. Mr. Helwig does not perceive it as a negative, most of those assignments are well intentioned. Some are destructive, but a good Manager can sense that. The Council speaks as one Council; one person is not empowered to do this unless designated by the Council.
Council Member DeRoche asked Mr. Helwig what his opinion is of holding staff meetings?
Mr. Helwig responded he believes in them. Part of his training at the University of Virginia in 1992 at the Senior Executive Institute, reinforced his feelings of having a leadership group among the staff that is fully informed and has input of everything going on. In this organization, everyone is paid to think, not just about what they are working on. He has been taught and practiced that the first and foremost function of an executive is to form a communication system throughout the organization that will serve in good times and bad.
Council Member DeRoche asked how good is he at delegating? Does he build up a team and they run the City?
Mr. Helwig responded leadership fascinates him and how leaders spend their time. As he had mentioned in the first interview, leaders focus on vision, values and monitoring the environment in which they compete. You cannot always be doing that in service to Council and the Community if the Manager is looking over everyone shoulder. The Manager needs to delegate and hold people accountable through performance agreements and periodic discussions.
Council Member DeRoche asked if the thirty years of completed public service includes his military service.
Mr. Helwig answered it does include his military service.
Council Member DeRoche asked how many years does he plan on being involved in city management?
Mr. Helwig responded he looks at his career in five-year increments and his wife wants to stay in Michigan. He is at a point in his career to have flexibility to do this. His choice is Novi and would not be looking to go somewhere else.
Ms. Tia Gronlund-Fox said one of Councilís goals for the 1999-2000 year was coming up with alternative funding. She asked Mr. Helwig what is his approach to this and what ideas does he have on alternative types of funding
Mr. Helwig replied it involves everything from scavenging to making the most of every contact and relationship you have as a City. Money is out there, finding it requires determination. First, he would determine what the City is trying to achieve, than designating the people to go after that. It is also keeping abreast of what is out there and maintain the contacts to connect.
Ms. Tia Gronlund-Fox asked if he has been primarily responsible for grants or does he have a person who specialty is seeking grants?
Mr. Helwig responded normally there would be a person in an office of Management and Budget type of environment, where the director would be responsible for working with each of the departments and having the lead accountability.
Ms. Tia Gronlund-Fox wanted to know his opinion on employee evaluations. 1. How important does he feel they are? 2. How much weight does he give them?
They are very important; we owe the employee a timely and honest evaluation. It needs to go beyond their performance of the past year, but also their growth and development plan for the future. He finds tremendous satisfaction in watching the people around him grow and take on additional responsibilities. His personal philosophy is that ideally four out of five promotions would come from within.
Mayor Clark thanked Mr. Helwig for being here and mentioned that a decision will be reached at a Council Meeting on March 4, 2000 at Noon.
Council took a break from 10:40 a.m. Ė 11:02 a.m.
INTERVIEW OF JAMES PIERCE
Mr. Pierce thanked Council for the privilege of coming back to speak with them.
Ms. Tia Gronlund-Fox stated one of Councilís goals for the 1999-2000 year was to come up with alternative funding sources. What are some of his ideas to accomplish alternative funding?
Mr. Pierce responded that you need to look at the gamut of what is available to the City from the State and Region. There are many good examples nationally, as well as statewide, that you can borrow experience from. The bottom line is having an open-ended exploration of all possibilities. This would than give you a good menu to tailor choices for your needs and desires in the community.
Ms. Gronlund-Fox asked what his experience with grants has been.
Mr. Pierce replied he has been successful in all the communities he has been in. One of the critical ingredients is to make sure you are very well networked at the Federal and State level. When you have networks you generally have better access to what is available and more successful securing the community is entitles to. He has always had good relations in all the communities he has been in with the State Legislatures, Congressman and Governor.
Ms. Gronlund-Fox inquired what his experience has been in who has obtained those grants. Was it the City Manager, Department Heads, or a primary person who had this responsibility?
He responded it varies, depending upon the project, the grant program, and the magnitude of the opportunity. Typically if it were a high profile project the City is trying to finance, generally the City Manager would be involved in the process, for smaller, specific grants, often times those can be managed by Department Directors
Ms. Gronlund-Fox asked what is his opinion or feeling about employee evaluations. 1. How often does he think they should be done? 2. How much weight does he give them?
He thinks it is critical for every employee from the City Manager on down. The communication that comes with the good performance review system is critical. This needs to be ongoing, quarterly, semi-annual, annual process of give and take between a supervisor and employee. It is the best way to avoid finding yourselves in difficult personnel situations.
Council member Bononi stated a famous theologian suggested that everything he had learned he learned in Kindergarten. When he studied at Wayne State University for his MPA, what essential element does he think they did not tell him?
Mr. Pierce stated he does not know if academia can ever fully prepare anyone for the human side of public management. It is the instincts gained from lifeís experiences to make better decisions. The educational background becomes more valuable as you gain experience.
Council member Bononi stated that many downtowns have a challenge about bringing people downtown, being attractive to businesses and consumers. Novi has a downtown under construction, Main Street, depending on who you talk to it is very successful or struggling. How would he respond to a rezoning that is not consistent with the present Novi Master Plan? Because they are not consistent with the Master Plan they may bring forth other large retail projects that have the potential to cannibalize Main Street tenants. What would he propose to deter such proposals or if not deter them, provide alternatives to them?
Mr. Pierce responded the question is difficult to address unilaterally. As a community within a regional market place, there is some limitation on what you can do unilaterally as a community control the marketplace. The best defense is a good offense in this particular case. You will find around the country the downtownís that have been most successful are the ones that have found their niche within their market place and sticking with that game plan and implementing it to the point of becoming an attractive product that people want to invest in.
Council member Bononi mentioned that Davenport is sixty-two square miles in area. How much parkland and or open space does it have and does he feel it is enough?
Mr. Pierce answered statistically they have a large amount of open space and park dedicated property. Unfortunately it is not in all the correct locations or has the right mixture of large regional parks and smaller neighborhood parks. This past year we have just done a comprehensive master planning process for the next twenty years of the parks system. There is a lot of work that needs to be done in establishing new parks, and completing existing parks.
Council member Bononi asked what the results where of his last performance evaluation, and how did it help him personally and professionally improve?
Mr. Pierce stated that it is an issue at the moment. The former Council gave him a lot of feedback and he had a great working relationship with them. He went through annual strategic goal setting processes and he had a good handle on what Councilís expectations where, and he was dedicated to them. They did not formally do an evaluation of him; this is the issue with the new Council. He did not feel it was appropriate to demand an evaluation of the former Council. He still is supportive of evaluations for all employees. The new Council is setting up a different system, a process of trying to find the correct criteria, forms and process that they are comfortable with.
Council member Bononi inquired about his experience and preferences in dealing with property tax abatements versus tax incentive packages when presented with the opportunity to entertain new developments who are requesting such?
Mr. Pierce responded with the exception of Florida, who had a unique perspective on development from the Midwest. His other experience in the Midwest is with tax incentives, other economic development incentives that will produce the quality development the community is looking for. Whatever you offer needs to be done with specific purposes and end results in mind. It also needs to be right politically and financially sensible.
Mayor Pro-Tem Lorenzo with regard to his application, he had indicated he left his position in Florida because of differences with some Council members. Can he elaborate on what the differences of opinion where about.
Mr. Pierce answered from his perspective that it was a very interesting situation politically. There was a contest for Mayor where four candidates ran, three were positive and supportive of what the community was doing and one who did not say or offer a lot about what he was unhappy about, won the contest. The Mayor and two of the Council members, who also were unhappy about some things, formed an alliance and created a "block". They also wanted him to do things that he did not feel were appropriate professionally. In any given, Council/Manager relationship there is a point in time where it is not productive and for the best interests of everyone concerned, change needs to occur. His perspective on the performance side the community was supportive of the direction they were going.
Mayor Pro-Tem Lorenzo asked in general terms if there was a settlement package offered or requested?
Mr. Pierce replied he did have a contract and all he asked for was having the contract honored. He felt it was a straightforward situation, again there was a matter of politics over sensibility. It was resolved eventually, just not as smoothly or efficiently as he had hoped.
Mayor Pro-Tem Lorenzo stated in his current position in Davenport, there was an issue over his performance appraisal or lack thereof. There are also other issues that have surfaced regarding some loans. Can he elaborate on the differences he is having with the Alderman at this point in time?
Mr. Pierce answered that they are not really differences with the Alderman, who assumed office along with seven new Council members in a legislative body of eleven, but continuing questions the media continues to focus on. Mr. Pierce feels there has been good progress made with the new Council in establishing a working relationship. There are some diverse issues in the community that distinguishes the former Council from the current one. The media keeps reinforcing his transition of working on behalf of the agenda of the old Council to the new Councilís. Many of the goals are the same; one diverse issue is concerning mixed-use development in the fastest growing section of Davenport.
Mayor Pro-Tem Lorenzo asked in regards to those issues, particularly the loan issue, is it his contention, as a City Manager, that he was simply following the previous Councilís directives and working on behalf of those when getting involved in a loan situation?
Mr. Pierce responded it is a specific opportunity or situation that stands on its own. Davenport had a 120 year old company was failing. There were seven of the most prominent business people and entrepreneurs coming forward as a group to try and save the company in conjunction with Wells Fargo, one of the largest banks in the country. Wells Fargo had a $7,500,000 plan to salvage, resurrect and revitalize the company, which was an important part of their manufacturing tradition. The previous Council felt investing a half million dollars in the company was appropriate and reasonable. Mr. Pierce also felt it was an appropriate and prudent investment because the businessmen, entrepreneurs, and Wells Fargo felt it would succeed. Unfortunately, the business went under. In many of the communities he has worked in, the vast majority of projects are successful if there are one or two businesses that fail, they are the ones focused on.
Mayor Pro-Tem Lorenzo asked that assuming the compensation was acceptable to him, if he was offered the position, is he serious enough to accept it.
Mr. Pierce replied he needs to discuss this with his wife. She would love to be in Michigan with her family, but she also loves her home, which she built. The children are also very involved in school activities, and are not real happy with him at the moment. If Novi wants him, he certainly wants Novi. He is hopeful and confident that they can work out what they need to make it happen.
Mayor Pro-Tem Lorenzo asked him if there were any questions he had for Council?
Mr. Pierce asked what would ultimately spell success, and be their working relationship, their expectations would be for a new City Manager? What issues need to be addressed, internally, organizationally, or from the community perspective? It has been his belief that if you are able to maintain a perspective on the big picture and dealing with the items most critical to the future, the smaller things generally take care of themselves.
Mayor Pro-Tem Lorenzo answered from her perspective; she is looking for an individual that will focus on the internal organization at this point in time. Her opinion is attention has been lacking. A lot or attention has been paid to Economic Development, Road Bonds, all of the external features in the community. In explanation of internal organization she means employee compensations, structure of the organization, how departments relate to one another, the City Manger, and Council, and the organization as a whole. We are now in the process with the Consultant Review Committee interviewing Risk Managers. She is looking for a City Manager that can take charge in leadership of the internal organization, make sure that we are cost effective and efficient, have our necessary risk assessment.
Council member Kramer agreed with Mayor-Pro Tem Lorenzo comments. Novi is at a midway point in growth. The time is appropriate to ask ourselves who are we, where are we, where do we go, how do we prepare ourselves? We are looking for someone who has the skills to balance and manage the necessity of dealing externally and internally. Council member Kramer is looking for a professional manager who will provide the above, someone with a connectivity with the community, participation in government, and innovative ideas. A new employment opportunity is the opportunity to look at new ideas.
Council member Csordas commented he is looking for vision, see the future, understand the true desires or the Master Plan, to have vision to recommend a tweak of the plan. In addition, leadership in bringing the City team together. We have excellent people working in the City but leadership and direction from the Manager is critical. Communicating to the community, being open and involved within the community and wanting to be in Novi are also important.
Council member Bononi feels she fits in with everything listed that everyone has brought forward. She would like to stress a need for leadership by example such as focussing on everyone, residents, individuals on Council, and most importantly the City Manager, give Council his best professional advice, whether Council would like it or not. Also important is the outreach to the citizenry, to continue with the open attitude for problem resolution that is being established.
Council member Crawford wished to echo what has been previously stated. He concurs that we have been served well by our previous Manager but we are a different City now. In the Cities young adulthood, we need different guidance, by a professional, internally as well externally in the community.
Council member DeRoche stated his ideal situation is a Manager who builds up the team, and runs the City, not for Council to be involved in the oversights of management and having to second guess the management.
Mayor Clark concurred on all of the comments that have been made. He too is looking for leadership that is open, dynamic, positive, lead Novi into the future, responsive not only to Council but to the community and offer some vision.
Mr. Pierce thanked Council for the feedback. All of the reasons summarize his interest in the job. Those reasons make this an enjoyable profession and a great opportunity with some challenge.
Council member Crawford stated the City is blessed with a few historic properties, not like the East Coast of Europe, what is his perspective on preserving and funding these properties?
Mr. Pierce responded that in general it is critical. Particularly in this situation as Council member Crawford described, you need to insure you treasure them and fund them. It is vitally important to take extra effort to insure that you take full advantage of the few opportunities you have to preserve and showcase the history. There are many historic preservation tools available Federally and Statewide.
Council member Crawford asked if he was aware of any Federal or statewide preservation tools.
Mr. Pierce stated that in Davenport, they have taken advantage of Federal Tax Credits and State Tax Credits. The state also has incentive programs to assist in the redevelopment of historic properties. In Davenport, they have developed City programs to nurture the investment of the private sector.
Council member Crawford said Novi has up to four potential millage bond proposals that will be introduced and asked what is his experience with packaging a proposal and the success or failure?
Mr. Pierce said he has seen communities put proposals before the community too quickly without the correct preparation. In Ohio, there are two examples. One, they have revamped the local tax system, and two, purchased the water system from a privately owned company out of New Jersey. Both were two and a half year long efforts and successful in the end. The strategic planning firm assisting them in the process they knew they both were going to win because they put the right proposal together based on what the community wanted. The end result was easy. It was all of the work that went into making sure they were listening to the community, forming the question on the basis of what the community wanted, what it was willing to accept and what it was willing to pay for. School districts tend to toss out propositions and if it does not pass in one election, then they put it out in another election. It makes more sense to craft the right proposition so they can get the right result the first time and not go through the stigma of failure.
Mr. Pierce went on to say that their first proposal to revamp the tax system was to slightly increase the local income tax in favor of small property tax reduction. In specific, targeting of all the new revenues to those things needed by the community, such as more police officers, better roads and new fire station. Council was not very comfortable with that proposal, however, all the polling work was done and they knew they had to give a little property tax relief and tell them what they were going to use the new money for. In the end, with the right proposal there, and a targeted campaign of providing information to seniors and others based on what was most important to them, they ran a very good campaign on behalf of the proposition. In the case of the water system, that was a very challenging endeavor. The American Water Works Company out of Voorihis New Jersey owned the system and they never lost a referendum. However, in his case, the community wanted to have control over their water system to be able to better control its destiny, water rates and annexation.
Council member DeRoche asked how many State Representatives and County Commissioners are in Davenport.
Mr. Pierce replied that they have five County Commissioners and twelve members of their State Legislative Delegation. They have a great relationship with the Governor and Director of Development. However, it is challenging because of their geography because they are two and one-half hours from their State Capitol. They are very distinct from the rest of the State of Iowa. Sometimes they have to fight hard to compete with Cedar Rapids and the DesMoines region. The Governor spends a lot of time in Davenport and is very appreciative of their Democratic State Senator who was one of the Governorís first supporters.
Council member DeRoche asked what was his business practice with staff meetings.
Mr. Pierce replied that they have bi-weekly staff meetings in the middle of their legislative cycle. Davenport has five Council committees that meet on Thursday and then they have a Committee-of-the-Whole on the following Monday, then a Regular Council meeting the following Wednesday. They have a very long cycle with a tremendous amount of work on the Council and staff. The staff meets between the Committee-of-the-Whole and the Regular Council meeting to make sure they are all fully aware of who is doing what. That is a challenge in Davenport because they have eleven Department Directors and over 1,000 employees.
Council member Csordas asked what he felt it would take a person to be successful at performing the job of City Manager.
Mr. Pierce said that communications is very important, internally, externally and with the community. Communications is important in both speaking and listening.
Council member Csordas asked how would he go about performing the job
of City Manager?
Mr. Pierce said that he would try to learn as much as he can from staff, Council and many interactions that he can obtain from the citizen in the community. This needs to be done on an ongoing basis and adjust accordingly. One of his better
strengths is the ability to adjust. Mayor and Council set the general policy direction and he would do everything he can to make sure those policies are implemented as quickly and cost effectively as possible. It is important as an organization to be able to change courses and to make adjustments.
Council member Csordas asked for a brief description of why the 53rd and Eastern Avenue project was so controversial.
Mr. Pierce said that he is not sure why it was so controversial because as he looks at it, it was a phenomenal opportunity for a community. He often thought in the other communities he was in, if he would have been able to work with those Mayors and City Councils to identify a six hundred acre plus project that brought three hundred acres of public amenities and three hundred acres of high quality private development and all that was self-supporting he probably would have received some sort of bonus or merit adjustment. As it relates to Davenport specifically, some of it was locational. There is a sense in the community that is played up by the media who has created an artificial division in the community, both geographically and financially. It is rich versus poor, east versus west. They have a fairly unhealthy level of competition within their community. There was some good economics and finances associated with the proposal, terrible politics and the public relations end of it was not handled very well. They had three very high quality individuals who were business owners on the former Council who could analyze the situation and make decisions, but were perceived as arrogant. Sometimes, when they were making the right decisions and giving the right leadership, it was not taken the right way. This was an interesting case study on how a community can mishandle an excellent opportunity from a financial economical standpoint, but if it does not work politically, it does not matter. They now have a task force that is looking at the project and hopefully, they will look at downsizing, reshaping the project and focus on some of the public amenities that were universally acceptable to the community. He was implementing the previous Councilís number one goal from the time he was hired who truly believed at that time that was the thing to do in terms of future planning.
Council member Csordas asked how would he go about making important decisions and give an example.
Mr. Pierce said that he likes to speak with all the players involved in the situation,
as well as some that are not involved. The objectivity of having the perspective of others is very important, but the process of gathering information from people totally removed from the situation can be a good sound basis upon which to judge the merits of a given situation.
Council member Csordas asked if he were offered the job of City Manager, would he move to Novi?
Mr. Pierce said that he would say yes himself, but it would be contingent upon his
family being happy. He would be hopeful they could make out the right arrangement.
Council member Csordas asked Mr. Pierce where does he see himself three
years down the road?
Mr. Pierce replied if not in Novi he would be in Davenport. He is interested in the position because of the community and the location of the community. He would
not be interested in any other community in the suburban Detroit area, but Novi.This is the only job he has applied for and would apply for some period of time.
Council member Csordas asked what would he bring to the job that others do not.
Mr. Pierce said that he brings a lot of passion, energy and results oriented skills.
He can accomplish, along with the Mayor and Council, anything that they can collectively set their sights on. If they are together politically as a team, they can do what is needed to be done, but if they are divided as a team, then that limits their success.
Council member Kramer asked why is Novi attractive to him and what part of the Novi opportunity will give him satisfaction?
Mr. Pierce said just the way the City government does business by the openness, willingness to consider change and embark on change where appropriate, is the kind of invitation that City Managers like to hear. Davenport has a lot of tradition and history, which can be very frustrating at times. He has always been on a mission that there is a better way, sometimes taking risks. The sense of excitement and enthusiasm for the future of the community is very enticing from his perspective.
Council member Kramer asked where does the element of city size, scale and scope fit in, as Davenport is larger than Novi. How does he access those differences in the two communities with regards to his interests and satisfaction?
Mr. Pierce said not nearly as big as it use to be from a professional standpoint. Ten or fifteen years ago, he vision ending up his career in San Diego or Dallas and could have done that if he was willing to sacrifice more personally for trying to do what was needed professionally. That is a different level of commitment and balance than what he has enjoyed. The family part is very important and Novi is a great place to live and raise a family, with a good educational system.
Council member Kramer asked about public versus private with regard to providing various services and facilities. How does he view the relative value and choices between public and private enterprise involvement?
Mr. Pierce said that he feels it is critical not to bring a preconceived notion to any given situation. Charlotte, North Carolina and Phoenix, Arizona are the best examples in terms of having a very balanced and fair process. There are always pros and cons from both sides for any given service. Davenport still provides garbage service through the public sector to the community. In Davenport, it is a challenge to look at anything on any kind of balance or level of playing field as far as private versus public, which is not healthy. However, there are communities that commit themselves to the provision of service through the private sector and that can be equally bad.
Council member Kramer asked what he felt was the best way to communicate with community residents.
Mr. Pierce replied that to communicate in as many ways as possible, have a comprehensive public information program that uses newsletters, websites, cable television, or community surveys. All of this will give the City opportunity to provide information to the community that the media will not cover. The City should try to find as many mechanisms as they can to get the information out to all the people within the community.
Mayor Clark asked what does he think the relationship should be between
City and school officials?
Mr. Pierce said that in some communities, the relationship between City and school officials has been strained. As he looks at it, both are in the same business of trying to serve the same taxpayer in the most efficiently and effectively manner as possible. The energy between the City and school district is essential for the full success of the community. In Davenport, they have monthly meetings with the City, County and school officials to insure whatever challenges they have are discussed and handled as harmoniously as possible. If that relationship is not good, it creates a conflict oriented atmosphere in other elements of the community. Leadership by example is a very good form to follow.
Mayor Clark asked if a single member of the Council asked him to undertake a task or do something that was already contrary to an announced Council policy, how would he deal with that issue?
Mr. Pierce said that he works for the Council. He encourages anyone who would come to him with public policy initiatives to confer with their colleagues because he cannot set or change public policy. Once a policy is established, unless it is changed by a majority of Council, the policy stands. He will only be able to deal with one agenda and that is the Councilís agenda.
Mayor Clark asked Mr. Pierce if he had any questions of Council.
Mr. Pierce said he would like to know how Council is dealing with the changes in the community, such as trying to merge the views of people that have resided in Novi for a long time with those that are new to the city. What is the Councilís sense on trying to create that unity of purpose within the community?
Council member Crawford replied that he has lived in Novi his entire live and feels that problem has always been in existence and will always be in existence. He was in Novi when there was 4,000 people and now there is 44,000 plus. He does not look at that as a problem, but a challenge. He thinks Novi has dealt with that issue over the years and will do fine in the future.
Mayor Clark said that he concurs with Councilman Crawfordís statement. He has been living in Novi for twenty years and has seen tremendous changes and growth in the city. The key is to try to keep the channels of communications open on a constant basis between all segments of the city. When the next census figures come in, Novi will probably top 50,000 people. Novi has a lot of growing to do and he feels it will be interesting and challenging times.
Council member Bononi said that she is a newcomer to the city and can address
the other side of coin to member Crawfordís comment. She does not believe that the problem or situation that he addressed will always be a problem. Some of the things Novi has to surmount are very difficult. Not having a downtown, up until the current time, that everyone could identify with as being a focal point, has been a serious problem with regard to identity in the community. Another thing that she sees will not change is the fact that a large amount of residents work somewhere else and come home to Novi to sleep. There is not a lot of interaction on the local level. She sees many positive things Novi can do from the standpoint of community activities that are missing. It will be a challenge of the Council and the people that live in Novi to see that those things happen.
Council member Csordas said that he views that situation as an opportunity because there are people that have lived in Novi for a long time that have seen the change. There have been many people that have come to Novi that have different viewpoints and opinions. They come because they want to live in Novi. He has lived in Novi for 23 years and he wanted to come to Novi and have his children go through the school system. He is on his second house and has no intention of leaving Novi. Novi has diversity, history and new ideas, which means opportunity.
Council member Kramer said Novi has a contingent of people that have moved from Novi to Novi and another group of people that have moved from Novi and back. Where Novi is a mix of people, there is enough chemistry in the community that draws people together and seems to grow harmoniously.
Mayor Clark thanked Mr. Pierce for coming and said that Council will be having a
special meeting on Saturday, March 4th at Noon to make a decision.
Mr. Pierce said that he appreciates the opportunity and feels Council have conducted an excellent interview process.
Council took a break at 12:33 p.m. and reconvened at 1:14 p.m.
MARK VANDERPOOL INTERVIEW
Mayor Clark asked Mr. Vanderpool if he had any questions of Council at this time or if during the interview questioning he would like to ask a question to feel free to raise his questions.
Mr. Vanderpool said that he would like to take the opportunity to thank the Council for the reception. He enjoyed speaking with Council members and staff. He thanked Craig and Tia for coordinating the reception. He was very impressed on his first visit to Novi a few weeks ago and is even more impressed with Novi His wife is equally impressed.
Tia Gronlund-Fox said that one of Councilís goals for 199-2000 year was how to come up with alternative funding. What are some of his ideas for alternative funding and how would he go about implementing those ideas?
Mr. Vanderpool replied that he likes the idea of Novi hiring a Grant Coordinator, which is a step in the right direction. The City should hard look at available funding options. There is a lot of grant funding available. Alternative funding is a major challenge. He cannot give a list of optional funding Council should consider, but can give some areas that he would like to focus on and explore. He would like to take a look at fees for charges and the way business is being conducted and are there other revenue options that should be explored outside of the grant process. It is important to not only be solely focused on revenues, but have to take a look at some of the expenditures, which can free up some other revenue funding for other priorities. Skokie has been in a property tax freeze for almost nine years and have been confronted with some of the same issues Novi has been dealing with in terms of revenue constraints. His approaches as budget officer for the community has been turn every stone conceivable in terms of revenue. Skokie just completed a comprehensive fee study where they looked at every fee they charge in the community from special assessments, building permits, driveway permits, vehicle license stickers, etc. They looked how they ranked with their comparable communities and what it cost to provide those services. They have made adjustments accordingly and still are able to live within their property tax cap. They also have the luxury in Illinois to increase the sales tax. They are also looking at an entertainment tax because they have a performing arts center and a number of theatres. They have made a significant reduction in expenditures.
Tia Gronlund-Fox asked what his opinion would be on employee evaluations. Does he feel they are important and if he feels they should be done and is important, how often should they be done?
Mr. Vanderpool said that employee evaluations are critical from the City Manager across the organization. They have to be diligently and systematically done. All department heads need to be held accountable for their evaluations and across the organization. He is very good at doing evaluations in the organization. The Personnel Director is very diligent about holding others accountable in making sure the evaluations are done. The Personnel Manual needs to state that evaluations have to be done at least annually. Evaluations need to be done for new employees after six months and then annually. Performance evaluations are a benchmarking tool. The organization has an obligation to do the evaluations with the employees. While it may be a lot of work upfront, it pays dividends long term. It is a two-way streak. The employees should also have an opportunity to evaluate their supervisors.
Mayor Pro Tem Lorenzo asked how involved should the City Manager be in the supervision of the Police and Fire Departments.
Mr. Vanderpool said that all departments are important, but public safety is very important and the most visible public service. The City Manager should be involved in managing both departments and work very closely with both Chiefs. It is important that the City Manager makes sure that the goals and objectives setforth by the City Council in both police and fire are being implemented accordingly. Where they are not, the City Manager has an obligation to correct that and inform Council and maybe reprioritize or restructure those objectives.
Mayor Pro Tem Lorenzo asked what is his philosophy and approach to setting employee compensation and where does that fit in with the budget?
Mr. Vanderpool replied that employee compensation is extremely important. It is not the only factor that motivates employees, but is an important factor. How that is determined needs a great deal of discussion with the Council in terms of what has been the past practice; is employee compensation low or average. He cannot answer that questions but would have to do some fact-finding to determine where the employees base generally rank. Is it average or below average? What is the organization objective? Is the objective to have the work force in the top third based on comparable communities? Is the organization objective to be about average or slightly above average? He has to have a better feel as to what has been past practice and whether past practice has been sufficient or not. He has to have a better feel on what the perception is throughout the organization at this time.
Mayor Pro Tem Lorenzo asked if he found employee surveys effective and has he been involved with those surveys?
Mr. Vanderpool said that employeeís surveys are effective and depends on the situation and issue. It is important to communicate with the work force. He has done that in numerous ways and his organization has a formal process in place. They have an established internal newsletter and update employees on various organizational issues, on various economic development efforts, various new programs and new Council objectives and directives. They hired their first full time I.T. training in-house on a regular basis. The reason they set that up was because they surveyed employees and they said they need training and informational technology.
Council member Bononi said that a famous theologian seems to think that the most important things he has learned he learned in kindergarten. She asked Mr. Vanderpool that while he was studying at Northern Illinois University for his MPA, what did he not learn there that he wishes he had learned.
Mr. Vanderpool said that the Northern Illinois Master Public Administration Program is one of the top rated. One of the reasons it is in the top five of MPA programs are because of the internship it offers. It is a two-year internship requirement where he had to go out in the municipality and work in an internship. He was fortunate to be part of that program. He served his full-time internship in the Village of Skokie in the Managerís Office. What the program did not prepare him for was the academic component of learning is not reality. What they learned in the classroom was not applicable in the real world. You cannot teach from an academic perspective only how to deal with people, which is something that has to be developed early in life.
Mr. Vanderpool went on to say that the graduate MPA Program does not prepare for the real world implications of budgeting. He feels the budget is the lifeline of the organization and it is the bible that the organization lives by throughout the year. There are many difficult decisions that go into the budget process, in terms of new programs, existing programs, maintaining infrastructure and generating new revenue sources. That type of information cannot be taught solely in the classroom.
Council member Bononi said that the City of Skokie, comprised of 10.2 square miles, has 243 acres of park area. She asked if he was satisfied with that ratio.
Mr. Vanderpool said that Skokie is completely landlocked and is fully developed. Their ability to generate open space is constrained. They have numerous neighborhood parks throughout the community, with ice rinks, country club, and lot of parks and recreation amenities that other communities that are landlocked and fully developed do not have. They also have the Performing Arts Center, which is a major cultural recreational asset to the community. The community is very satisfied with the level of parks and recreation and leisure activities that are available. Continually maintaining the resources and keeping up with technology is a major challenge.
Council member Bononi said she noticed the Performing Arts Center is operating at a deficit, which was predicted, but would like to know how he made those determinations and what ideas he came up with to turn that facility around?
Mr. Vanderpool said that managing Performing Arts Centers is another area that they do not teach well in the classroom. It is a unique area. Dealing with the artistic world has been a challenge. They did project a deficit and the performers, very early on, did project a deficit for the first five years of operation. They concluded the first year with a deficit and the first few years of operation they have had a deficit, as projected. They are subsidizing operations at approximately $250,000 per year. They refer to the deficit as the operational subsidy and hope to be out of the deficit in five to seven years.
Mr. Vanderpool went on to say that this is an area of service that he felt the city should not have been involved in terms of day to day management, but an area the private sector should manage. The city is not in the entertainment business and as municipalities, they have experience with police, fire, plowing streets, etc. He advocated privatizing operations of this service early on in the project, which has proven to be successful. It involved a national recruitment of management firms. The facility is a 20 million-dollar operation with two performing centers. The project was met with some resistance, as this was the first major facility that was privatized in the Village of Skokie. The management firm is doing well. They had some concerns initially with the General Manager, and there is a tendency when a service is privatized, to take a step back and let the management firm handle the operation. Now they play a much closer day to day role with the management firm. They had a three-year window of opportunity to work out all the issues and make sure the business is working accordingly and the performances are on target. They are now hitting all their targets. They have relied heavily on philanthropic support as well. They have a very good working relationship with the business community, industrial community and with the foundation board, not only establishing the foundation board, but creating the Charter and recruiting the members to serve on the foundation and working with the foundation to implement its fund raising campaign. To date they have raised over three million dollars. In terms of revenues, it is the entertainment business, and can be the victim of the economy. They have had a good economy and the entertainment business is good, shows are selling well, and that is where a majority of the revenue comes from.
Council member Bononi said that Novi is developing their Main Street, what does he think about rezoning proposals, not consistent with the Master Plan, that are being approved and have the potential to cannibalize Main Street tenants and permitted uses. What would he propose to either deter or suggest alternative use when such proposals arise?
Mr. Vanderpool said that he was in the market center and what they have to offer is great. His wife wanted him to compliment the Council on the lit street signs in that area felt they were very impressive. It is hard to grow a downtown. Most communities have the luxury of having a downtown. It is a matter of maintaining its liability. Novi is literally trying to create a new downtown, although there has been a central core area, Main Street is new. The effort to date is very impressive and commendable. The fact that Novi has mixed use is on the right path. He feels Novi has to be diligent about the fact that they do want to continue mixed uses in that area. He likes the residential multi-unit development adjacent to the downtown Main Street area. It is important to stay with the Master Plan, or perhaps refine it if Council feels there are areas of concern. Without actually seeing plan and knowing what Council has desired to have in place in that district, it would be difficult for him to respond to the question. However, continually revisiting the Master Plan for the downtown and for the community as a whole is important to do on a systematically basis.
Council member Bononi said that her question was relative to rezoning of other properties in consistent with the Master Plan that will tend to compete with this area.
Mr. Vanderpool said that he feels the Council has to rescrutinize rezonings in any district, but especially in the downtown area when they are not consistent with the Master Plan setforth by Council.
Council member Bononi asked when his last performance review occurred in the Village of Skokie, what were the results of the review, and how was he able to professionally improve his performance as a result of the review?
Mr. Vanderpool said that his last review was in October 1999. The evaluation involved feedback from all department directors and the City Manager. The evaluation was very positive. An area he is always trying to work on is how to get through some of the very difficult decision making, such as the budget, and still maintain professional relationships.
Council member Bononi asked how he either responds to requests for tax abatements or does he go the tax incentive route?
Mr. Vanderpool said that he understands the Council is debating tax abatements and had a meeting Thursday night. It is an interesting issue that not only Novi is facing, but the City of Troy as well. Skokie does not offer specific property tax abatements, but offers other incentives for economic development projects. It is important to point out that they have available to them, tax increment financing. They have three tax increment districts in Skokie, downtown district and two commercial sectors. They have the luxury of that economic development tool to make improvements on parcels of property in terms of whether it is new water or sewer lines, new sidewalks or other utilities. They have the luxury of buying land and landbanking it through their tax increment finance funds and then redeveloping those parcels. They can also loan money through the tax increment financing districts. Through special development agreements, they have worked out unique private governmental agreements; for example, the Village of Skokie negotiated a development agreement whereby they shared in fifteen million dollars of the two hundred million-dollar renovations. They provided that assistance through a grant to the developer and through a loan. The loan is being paid back through new incremental sales tax being generated by the development. Like Novi, Skokie has an Economic Development Coordinator and an Economic Development Division, which focuses solely on economic development on a day to day basis.
Council member Csordas asked how he would go about performing the job
as City Manager?
Mr. Vanderpool said that one of the first things he would want to do is meet with the Council, in terms of developing expectations and goals and objectives that Council would like to see implemented by the City Manager over the next six months. The second immediate priority would be getting to know the work force. He feels that is very important. He wants to get out to every single department and talk, not only with the department directors, but see, meet and know perceptions from employees as well. Another priority high on his list would be fostering good intergovernmental relations with the schools, county, other agencies in Novi, non-profit agencies in Novi, the business community and becoming an active member of the Chamber of Commerce. He would want to become involved in the community.
Mr. Vanderpool went on to say that he would also want to conduct a needs assessment of the organization to find out where the organization is excelling, where are the deficiencies and inefficiencies. He understands Novi is currently involved in their budget process. His experience is in budgeting and is currently the Budget Officer for the Village of Skokie. It is his job to coordinate a seventy million-dollar budget. He would want to jump right into Noviís budget process, which would be a major challenge because there is not a lot of time to finalize the budget. One way to learn the organization very quickly is understand the nuances of the budget document and process.
Council member Csordas asked him to explain his process in making important decisions and give one example.
Mr. Vanderpool said that decisions usually center on problems. He would want to clearly understand the issue and problem before making a decision and then identify some solutions to that problem. When he brings forth a problem to elected officials, it is also important that he identifies a couple of solutions for Councilís consideration. The City Manager should not be rigid on a specific solution; there should be a few options for Councilís consideration and then a recommendation for the best option.
Mr. Vanderpool said an example would be the Foundation Board set-up about four years ago. When they set the Foundation Board up, there was a specific campaign in mind. Since that time, a number of issues have influenced the original objectives. Now their cause for reprioritizing is what they originally lay out as a campaign. He has the difficult assignment of redefining its campaign objectives and identifying a restructuring for the Boardís consideration. They have to look at a merging of that Foundation and his process has been to identify the problem with the Foundation. Its original campaign is no longer as applicable or efficient as it can be in todayís environment. Foundations can become very autonomous in the way they act. The municipalities need to maintain some sort of control. The effective solution is the mergership of some of the existing foundations involved with the facility. The groups cannot work in isolation from each other.
Council member Csordas asked if he were to be offered this position, would he move to Novi?
Mr. Vanderpool replied absolutely.
Council member Csordas asked where does he see himself five years down the road.
Mr. Vanderpool replied he sees himself in the City of Novi. If he were the next City Manager for the City of Novi, he would want to make a long-term commitment. Novi is dealing with some very important issues that cannot be dealt with in two, three or four years. He has a younger family with children ranging from 3-12 years. They would be involved in the school system for many years. The issues and challenges are such that a City Manager should be able to make that commitment.
Council member Csordas asked Mr. Vanderpool what he brings to the job of City Manager that the other candidates do not.
Mr. Vanderpool said that he brings forth a very stable tenure. He started out as an Intern in Skokie and progressed through that organization. He has been in Skokie for nine years. He has good Michigan experience in the City of Tecumseh and was involved in the economic efforts there. He is familiar with property tax legislationís that effect Michigan municipalities. He is also very familiar with budgeting and offers a high degree of professionalism, good business sense, great deal of integrity and his professional ten-year stability is advantageous. He is very proud of Tecumseh and Skokie. Tecumseh was a tremendous experience for him and feels he was a significant contribution to that community and would be the same in Novi. He has a lot to offer Novi. His family is excited about the opportunity to become a part of the Novi community.
Council member DeRoche asked how important he thinks staff meetings are in his business practice that he would like to implement if he were the City Manager?
Mr. Vanderpool said that staff meetings are critical and must have them on a regular basis. In Skokie, they do staff meetings monthly and they have additional special meetings all the time, depending on the issues. Teamwork is important and that cannot be done in a vacuum. Staff meetings are just one of many forms in which to communicate openly on issues with staff. He also holds regular meetings with office staff to make them aware of issues. He feels team meetings should be held, beyond the monthly staff meetings, on various issues.
Member DeRoche said to Mr. Vanderpool that he is in an unique position in the pool of second interviews in that he has not been a City Manager and had to put a lot of thought in becoming a City Manager. He met staff and residents at the reception the other night and asked what has been going through his head the past month?
Mr. Vanderpool said that he was very impressed with the individuals he met at the reception. He enjoyed talking with the Police and Fire Chiefs and obviously, they are very competent and able individuals, doing a good job and managing very well with some limited resources. He has not been a City Manager, however, his experience is equivalent to some of the experience other City Managers would offer to Novi, especially with regard to his budgeting experience, economic development experience, experience with community groups, working with philanthropic organizations and working with non-profit organizations. He has also worked very closely with the local media in both communities he has worked. That is an important assignment for any City Manager. He has an outstanding rapport with employees, specifically with department directors in both communities he has worked in. While the assignments he has are challenging and difficult, his rapports have remained very professional, which is very important for a City Manager. The fact that he does not have City Manager experience should not be a concern, because he feels he has the wherewithal, enthusiasm, energy, professional and academic background and most importantly the people skills that are required.
Council member Kramer asked him to give an example of how he solve a
specific citizen complaint?
Mr. Vanderpool said that he deals regularly with citizenís inquiries. He likes that part of his job because he enjoys getting out, meeting with residents or industry, and solving their problems. Nine times out ten, he can solve most of the complaints. Customer service is critical. There is nothing worse than telling a resident there is nothing the City can do. He strongly discourages departments from doing that as it is not just wrong but it is not good customer service. There is always some sort of solution to a problem.
Mr. Vanderpool went on to say that recently he was dealing with a business along one of their major streets. Their parking was affecting a residential area. He called both parties into his office for a meeting, the homeowners and business manager, and talked through the issue. They did not make decisions at that meeting, but he wanted to collect information in an open environment and wanted both parties to be able to exchange viewpoints with each other. That helps defuse difficult citizen neighborhood complaints. He worked independently with each party, was able to get the business owner to make improvements to their parking lot by striping, improving signage, and explored residential permit parking for the homeowners. He feels everything worked out quite well.
Council member asked him to explain the amount of effort and resources that went into the newsletter program he implemented and how effective he feels newsletters are as a beneficial tool for the city.
Mr. Vanderpool said that the newsletter has been very effective. They put out about a ten-page newsletter monthly. Residents enjoy reading the newsletter. There is a comment section of the newsletter and they frequently hear from residents and businesses. He makes sure that the appropriate department responds expeditiously to the inquiries. The newsletter is just one component of their marketing outreach program. They not only have a newsletter to residents, but they also have a newsletter to boards and commissions because they really serve as ambassadors for the community and have to be knowledgeable of community events and programs. Their marketing division is a new program that the village board commissioned about a year ago. In addition, they have an internal newsletter for employees. They highlight a department each month, talk about new programs and economic development programs. It is important that employees only source of information not be the newspaper.
Mr. Vanderpool went on to say that the public information office prepares the community newsletter and serves as editor. The marketing director prepares the boards and commission newsletter and the internal staff newsletter as well. He created a community newsletter in Tecumseh, which is still done monthly.
Member Kramer asked him to give an example of team approach.
Mr. Vanderpool said that the team approach is used in many aspects of the organization. When he arrived in Skokie, they were behind the times as far as information technology. One of the first things he recommended and moved forward on was establishing an I.T Team to put together their informational technology strategic plan. The team is responsible for developing the plan in terms of Geographical Information System, document imaging and new computers. The team had representation from every department and developed the plan. They did not use a consultant to develop their I.T. strategic plan.
Council member Kramer asked how he feels about public versus private sector in providing services, such as recreation, community pools, etc.
Mr. Vanderpool said it is important for a City Manager to look at all options in providing services. He feels to be efficient, various options have to be explored.
Member Crawford asked if he has had an opportunity to put together any bond or millage proposals and if so, were they successful or unsuccessful?
Mr. Vanderpool said the performing arts center required a significant bond issue which needed residential, business and industrial support, and most important, board support. The board was divided on the project from the onset. The public information campaign turned out very effectively because the project was approved. He was involved in that public information effort and able to accomplish the project with very little controversy.
In addition, Mr. Vanderpool said that he was involved in the industrial park special service area and selling the project to the community. They worked very effectively with the Chamber of Commerce in getting their support upfront. Initially, there was a great deal of reluctance initially, but they just passed the special tax levy at their last board meeting and they did not have one person who spoke in opposition. Initially, there was a majority of the industrial property owners. The guiding principal is informing the public, getting across the message and making sure it is a unified approach.
Member Crawford asked how he feels about historic preservation.
Mr. Vanderpool said that historic preservation is very important. He has worked very closely with the Historic Preservation Commission in Tecumseh and served as staff support with the group. The Commission is responsible for coordinating and renovating one home each year. They help purchase a historic home; work with an agency to renovate the home then the home goes on tour. Historic preservation has a lot of impact with respect to building codes and how to enforce regulatory control in those areas and how to pursue economic development.
Mr. Vanderpool said that in Skokie they are trying to deal with a rapid transit station relocation because it is on an historic site and working closely with state agencies and the Historic Society to get that facility relocated. There is state and federal funding available.
Mayor Clark asked what does he feel should be the relationship between the city and the school district.
Mr. Vanderpool said that the city and schools should maintain a good working and professional relationship. At times, there are areas of mutual benefit that can be and should be pursued, whether it is sharing of resources or jointly pursuing a bond issue. The City Manager has an obligation of making sure those relations are nurtured and fostered. In Skokie they have seven and one-half school districts and have very good working relationships with the superintendents.
Mayor Clark asked how would he deal with a situation if a Council member
should give him an assignment or request to follow-up on a policy or procedure that would be in contravention of what the Council as a whole has indicated is community policy?
Mr. Vanderpool said that he would make sure the elected official understood the overall objective that was setforth by the entire Council and the idea was not in concert with that. If the individual was persistent that he follow-through on that issue, he has the obligation to inform the Council. Teamwork has to occur with the City Manager and City Council. Those types of situations would be countered productive to a team approach.
Mayor Clark asked Mr. Vanderpool if he had any questions of Council.
Mr. Vanderpool said that he would like to know about the period for hiring City Manager and Councilís residency thoughts. He feels it is important for the City Manager to live in the community, but is interested in knowing how the Council feels. He also would like to know what Council perceives to be some of the organizationís weakness.
Mayor Clark replied that Council plans to hold a special meeting on Saturday, March 4th, to come to a final decision on the City Managerís position. Regarding the question of philosophy, he will ask Council to respond to the question as to what they feel are pressing problems or issues. As to the question of residency, it is his opinion that any City Manager or candidate would want to live within the community they serve.
Member Crawford said that he feels it is imperative that the City Manager is an active participant in the community, which means living in the community. He also feels the Police and Fire Chief Ďs should live in the community. As far as the question of concerns, he feels the past City Manager served the City well for 30 years, but Novi is a different community than they were 30 years ago and needs a change in direction and priorities. Novi has an excellent staff and they need to be made aware of the team Novi spirit. The last election was evident that the residences were dissatisfied with the perception they had with being able to participate in Councilís decisions. That is an important area that needs to be addressed and needs to continue to be addressed. Council is doing a fine job in the last three months of changing that and needs to continue under the leadership of a strong City Manager.
Member Kramer said that challenges he is looking for in a City Manager are innovative, new ideas and approaches, proactive and active leadership, professional management and openness. A number of personnel areas in the City are open and the new City Manager will have a chance to mold his team.
Member Csordas said he feels the City Manager should live within the City and live with the people he will represent. Regarding the question of how Council feels about department concerns, he would be interested to hear the opinion of the new City Manager on the staff. Leadership is needed and there are dedicated people that work for the City.
Member DeRoche agrees with member Csordas on the residency of the City Manager. He wants to see a City Manager that gets things done. He wants Council to get into some of the oversight business, not the management business. He wants a strong leader that will instill that type of confidence.
Member Bononi said that she feels any City Manager who would commit to living in Novi would show a commitment to the Council. She sees the major challenges to be financial and would be looking for the City Manager to be presenting Council with a contingency plan with regard to belt tightening of all matters in order to address any pending financial challenges by the City. That has not been done and she feels it is imminently something the Council should do. She is looking for leadership challenges, not only giving the staffers a leadership they accept, understand, and buy in as a team, but a leadership capability to all the residents as well so everyone can participate in the process together.
Mayor ProTem Lorenzo said that she also feels it is important for the City Manager to live in the City. She would expect the new City Manager to focus on the internal workings of the organization, rather than the external. With reference to the assessment of City departments, she feels the City Manager should look at cost effectiveness, efficiencies, deficiencies, weaknesses, strengths, and an overall view of the organization and a priority on budget constraints.
Mayor Clark said what he would be looking for in a City Manager is someone who is open, positive, dynamic and firm leadership.
Mr.Vanderpool thanked the Council for their interest and said that he would like to reiterate his interest in Novi. He is very impressed with the community and Councilís efforts. He feels he has the skills to serve as Noviís next City Manager and hopes Council responds favorably.
Lee BeGole said he would like to compliment the Council and candidates for a very fine interview.
There being no further business to come before the Council, the meeting was adjourned at 2:37 p.m.
Richard J. Clark, Mayor Nancy Reutter, Deputy City Clerk
Transcribed by:___________________ ___
Susan E. Blumer
Date Approved: _March 20, 2000___