New Kenneth City manager produces a long to-do list

Matt Campbell presented an eight-page report to the council.

Matt Campbell presented an eight-page report to the council.

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 alindberg@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8450. Follow @ALindbergTimes on Twitter.

fast facts

Matt Campbell's 'state of the town'

Kenneth City Town Manager Matt Campbell presented an extensive "state of the town" report to council members during a workshop Wednesday. In it, he included an extensive list of ideas for improving the quality of life. Among them:

• The building of handicapped-accessible docks on some of the town-owned lakes to provide more water access.

• Town promotion and sponsorship of events such as food truck rallies, canoe/kayak demonstration days, lake shoreline cleanup events and barbecues in parks.

• Creation of bicycle and walking paths throughout the town.

• Creation of the county's first bicycle loaner program.

• Rebranding of Kenneth City's image to "remove its historical, stereotypical image of being strictly a 'speed trap' town."

• Creation of a facade grant program to encourage businesses along 66th Street and 54th Avenue N to improve their appearances.

• Promotion of public art, possibly including murals on town buildings.

• More stringent code enforcement.

• Modernization of the baseball field.

• Installing all-weather covers for the tennis and basketball courts.

•Increased regular maintenance of town parks and green spaces.

New Kenneth City manager produces a long to-do list 04/24/14 [Last modified: Thursday, April 24, 2014 6:11pm]

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