Sunday, February 25, 2018
News Roundup

New Kenneth City manager produces a long to-do list

KENNETH CITY — Just seven weeks after becoming this town's first manager, Matt Campbell has written a "state of the town" report that outlines long-neglected tasks and serves as the beginning of a blueprint for improvements.

The eight-page, single-spaced report was written, Campbell said, after multiple meetings with current and former Kenneth City council members, employees and residents. He also explored Kenneth City on foot and by car.

"This document is intended to provide you with a summary of my initial observations, and to seek guidance on which efforts or projects the council would prefer to be prioritized for implementation in the short term," Campbell wrote.

"This memo is intended to serve as . . . a starting point from which referenced ideas or projects can be spread over the next two to five years, depending on priority level, funding availability, and staffing."

Campbell divided his findings into four general areas.

Town management

Kenneth City is in "desperate need," Campbell said, of policies governing how it should be managed. For example, the town's personnel policy has not been updated since 1997 despite multiple changes in employment law. Among other things, he said, upgraded policies will help protect the town against liability.

Financial aspects

Campbell said the town's budget needs updating to include such things as balances of the various funds (operating, reserve, etc.) and more accurate backup including information from departments so it's easier to understand why certain expenditures are needed.

Campbell said he'll also be creating Kenneth City's first capital improvement plan, for the 2014-15 fiscal year. A CIP sets out building and other brick-and-mortar projects and equipment purchases over several years. It usually includes a planning schedule and includes options for financing the projects and purchases. It links the budget to the goals of the government.

Police and other departments

Campbell has already created an organizational chart, a first for the town, and has established a weekly meeting schedule with all department heads.

He agreed he had received a "significant amount of feedback" about the Police Department. Among the comments he received were requests for more community policing, a greater accountability and transparency for police activities and increased visibility of officers.

At Wednesday's workshop, Campbell had the first information session about the Police Department for council members and residents. One of the town's officers presented "a day in the life of a police officer" as a way of creating understanding of the challenges the police force faces daily.

After hearing from council members about proposed improvements to the department, Campbell has met with the engineer responsible for the renovations to widen the scope to include the entire building at 4600 58th St. N that houses both the Police Department and the Community Hall where the council meets. Possible improvements could include the addition of a second-floor council space and other offices should the Town Hall be relocated.

Campbell has also asked the engineer for recommendations about upgrading the Public Works building, at the same location, because the town's insurance carrier has repeatedly warned of possible liability and damage to the structure from a hurricane.

Infrastructure and parks

Campbell said he has identified many hidden gems in Kenneth City, including 13 lakes forming an "emerald necklace." Increased maintenance of the lakes is necessary, he said, "to control nuisance or exotic vegetation . . . to increase water views and eliminate hiding places for vagrants, and increase the potential for enjoyment or use of these features."

Anne Lindberg can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8450. Follow @ALindbergTimes on Twitter.

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