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Steve Kennedy: New city manager to mark six months on job

I will soon be reaching my six-month anniversary of service to the City of Americus as its first city manager. I have thoroughly enjoyed this time and am anxiously looking forward to the future as we experience and address many opportunities, challenges and ultimate successes in the city. A Six Month Plan was provided to the Mayor and Council at my interview which detailed the direction and approaches I would take if chosen for the position. This Plan has been a valuable guide as we have moved through these first six months. The Plan involved meeting with many individuals and groups to really assess what their concerns, opinions and suggestions were regarding the city.  Those meetings have proven beneficial as we have moved forward with different initiatives incorporating this feedback. Another part of the Six Month Plan involved evaluating the resources of the city which include financial, utilities, employees, as well as all relationships that work to make the city the best it can be. Actions have been taken in all of these areas to make sure that we are good stewards of these assets and continue our ongoing focus on process improvement and a resulting great quality of life in the city.
One step that has occurred involves getting the police department staffed at the appropriate level to provide quality public safety services to the citizens. In order to accomplish this we have raised the starting salaries for police officers to a very competitive level. This action has enabled the city to start attracting many very qualified candidates. We are very close to being fully staffed again with most of the applicants that are currently in the various Police Academy programs scheduled to be ready for service by early December 2015. In the interim, we will have three new officers starting on Sept. 23.
Another step taken was to acquire dependable equipment for the officers as they are out expected to perform their jobs. This equipment includes 10 new police vehicles, new body cams, tasers, additional radar units, dash cam, and in-car computers for more efficient use of officers’ time. These improvements to salary and equipment are being accomplished without additional budget requests for 2015.
In several citizen/community meetings we heard loud and clear that there is a strong support for our public safety staff and they were doing great with the resources they had; however, they needed to be properly staffed and equipped to make them better. The above efforts will result in accomplishing both of these recommendations.
Some other areas of attention include the budget and related process, evaluation of staffing in all departments, replacing our Police chief, Public Works director and Downtown Development director, evaluating economic development opportunities, code of ordinances review and updating, and a focus on strategically moving forward with opportunities before us.
Finally, our success is going to be more likely if we build and nurture our relationships with our many community partners. We can all be more successful working together than apart. My focus is to coordinate with these various groups and communicate with them to the point that we are all reading the same book, in the same chapter and on the same page. This will result is great success for all of the Americus-Sumter County community.
If anyone has any questions about the city, please do not hesitate to call me at 229-924-4411 or email me at: skennedy@americusga.gov