Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Mayor reorganizing Ketchum government

Jonas seeks improved flow of communication

Express Staff Writer

    Following the departures of Ketchum’s two highest-paid employees, City Administrator Gary Marks and Community and Economic Development Director Lisa Horowitz, Mayor Nina Jonas is shifting the shape of the city government.
    Instead of replacing Horowitz, Jonas has eliminated her position. The mayor has given the community development responsibilities to Joyce Allgaier, who now has the title of planning and building director. Meanwhile, the economic development duties belong to Ray Silver, the interim city administrator.
    Jonas said the elimination of Horowitz’s position will save the city $40,000-$50,000 per year. However, she said, the decision was not financially motivated.
    “The deeper I got into the budget and apply costs, I saw a need to save money,” Jonas said. “However, that is not the impetus. The impetus is to figure out the best structure for the city going forward. I feel confident we are headed in the right direction.”
    Jonas said the new structure of government will be more inclusive towards the public and will allow the City Council to understand each department better. She said she thinks the old structure of the city’s government was “fractured,” and wants to make it easier for different organizations to work together.
    In terms of communication between multiple departments towards a common initiative, Jonas cited as an example the city’s efforts to expand broadband conduit.
    “The broadband has planning implications, so I’m getting the Planning Department involved in figuring out how we can get more conduit for cheaper service,” Jonas said. “It’s also an economic development incentive, but when it comes down to it, I think it goes down to a different department.”
    As director of the Planning Department, Allgaier will hire later this year a new city planner who will work directly under her.
“I’ll be looking for an experienced planner,” Allgaier said. “We have a lot of work to do this year with land use and zoning code rewrites and an increase in development proposals. I want someone who’s educated, skilled and practiced in local government planning.”
    Allgaier said she’s excited to work with Jonas going forward because the two share the same desire to build a “high performing community” and a city government that has consistent processes that are predictable and transparent.
    “Nina (Jonas) wants everything to be out in the open,” Allgaier said. “She wants every City Council member to be part of the decision-making, as well as fully involving the city staff. She wants to raise the bar on using professionals to benefit the city.”

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