Budget time: City directors making important decisions | Mayor's Corner

By Dave Earling | Oct 27, 2017

Although I have the privilege of working with our city directors all year long, our relationship becomes more intense from June to year's end while forming the next year's budget.

The budget exercise always reminds me of the amazing quality of knowledge and leadership the directors bring to the city. First, their names and disciplines:

• Al Compaan - Chief of Police

• Patrick Doherty - Community Services/Economic Development

• Mary Ann Hardie - Human Resources

• Carrie Hite - Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services

• Shane Hope - Development Services

• Scott James - Finance and Information Services

• Phil Williams - Public Works and Engineering

You may know them from columns they've written for our twice-monthly columns for the Beacon. Some of you may know them from council meetings, public meetings, my Town Halls as well as other settings. And others may know them from occasional phone conversations or individual appointments.

I am in close contact with all the directors throughout the year. We have two meetings each week for directors and/or managers, and they often stop by my office for conversation and questions.

So, needless to say, I get to know these folks very well. It is through that constant interaction that I continue to be impressed with the amazing set of disciplines they bring to your city.

Do we ever have disagreements? You bet! Do I ever have to say “no”? You bet!

All of the directors have expansive skill sets. Besides thorough knowledge of their subject areas, they have to manage their department and staff, understand city, state and federal law, interact with the city attorney when seeking legal advice, be responsible for their department budget, work well with other directors, and maintain good relations with our city council.

In total, no lightweight assignment!

Beyond the in-house duties and professional organizations, all the directors represent the city in the county, regional, state and even occasionally Washington, D.C.

Just a few examples: Carrie Hite serves on the Governor's Council for the Healthiest Next Generation; Shane Hope works at the staff level of Puget Sound Regional Council; and Scott James is president of the Edmonds Noon Rotary.

Now back to the budget, which requires considerable cooperation.

Assembling the budget is a large undertaking for the departments. Obviously, depending on staffing and activities, some department budgets are more complex than others. And, just as with your own family budget, we have to deal with revenue and expenses balanced against priorities.

It is here the group shines.

While they submit requests with their priorities, they know not all will make the cut. After the Finance Department and I review requests and make preliminary decisions, which the staff can (and do) appeal, we finalize our work.

The budget then goes to the council for their consideration and final passage.

An outstanding example of directors working together is the work Parks, Public Works and Finance accomplished developing the financing strategy for large projects such as Civic Field, road resurfacing, waterfront projects, deferred city property maintenance and Highway 99.

For the past few years, they have made great project decisions – decisions involving millions of dollars. They work together for what they believe to be in the best interest of the city.

I have been around leadership groups in other cities where the sense of working together is a foreign language. Our leadership group works together to address and solve problems.

Yes, there are disagreements, but their professionalism allows them to seek ways to solve problems, not create confrontation. They are a group with mutual respect for one another and a group of professionals I respect.

They are good people doing good work.


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