Mayor's Update #2: Professionalizing City Administration
By Mayor Bruce Peele
September 18, 2015
Through this continuing series of Updates, I hope to keep the citizens of Blanco informed about what is going on to develop a better City. I hope these Updates will be both informative and challenging, spurring increased citizen involvement the affairs of the City and in the planning for its future.
The City Government must provide a wide range of services in an efficient, cost effective manner with courteous service to its citizens. In the past four months, we have made significant progress in improving and professionalizing the administration of the City.
City Attorney. The previous City Attorney served long and well but opted to resign following the last city election. We have now hired the Bojorquez Law Firm that specializes in municipal law. The firm’s principle, Alan Bojorquez, wrote the book on Texas Municipal Law that is used by the Texas Municipal Clerks’ Association. We pay the firm based on hours worked, with no retainer. One notable cost savings is that unless there is an expressed need for the City Attorney to be present at City Council meetings, there is no one there. Instead, one of the firm’s attorneys is “on call” during City Council meetings to answer any legal question that may arise. If we don’t call, there is no charge.
Assistant City Attorney. In the past, the City Attorney served as prosecutor in the City’s Municipal Court. We have now hired a young attorney, Colleen Davis, at considerable cost savings, to prosecute cases, which are mostly traffic cases. She, along with the Court Clerk Jessica Garner are doing an outstanding job streamlining the processes and have gotten rid the courts files of 100s of stale cases.
City Bookkeeper. Maintaining accurate financial books and being able to do “what-if” analyses is essential for efficient City operations. We have hired a part time, professional bookkeeper, Cindy DeGesero, to assist the City Staff with these tasks. Thanks to her diligent work, we were able to go into the FY2015/16 City Budget cycle confident we were dealing with the correct numbers.
City Files. The City Staff is now wrapping up a complete overhaul of the City’s filing system. The previous system was difficult to use and generally inefficient. For example, some file folders contained seven copies of the same document. The volume of our files has been greatly reduced and our ability to actually locate required documents has significantly improved. As time and funds allow, we would like to transition to an electronic filing system in which most of our files can be scanned and can be key word searchable.
City Administrative Procedures. To ensure uniformity in how the City Staff handles the public’s business, we have begun drafting a Procedures Manual. This is a work in progress but will make City operations more efficient in the future.
These seemingly mundane actions speak to the need to stay on top of city administration. In the next Mayor’s Update, I will delve into more substantive issues. To learn more about your City, go to www.cityofblanco.com.
M. Bruce Peel, Mayor