In November 2016, Assistant City Manager Mark Randall was assigned day-to-day oversight of the electric, water, and wastewater utilities by City Manager Zach Walker. This decision was made in an effort to better align and coordinate the affairs of the three utilities owned and operated by the City of Independence. In this capacity, Assistant City Manager Randall is given authority for decisions regarding personnel, finances, and project delivery on behalf of the City Manager.
In October 2017, Leon Daggett retired as Director of Independence Power & Light (IPL). Deputy Director Andy Boatright was named as the Acting Director of IPL, a position he has retained while the City Manager considered short-term, intermediate, and long-range needs of both IPL along with the Water and Wastewater Utilities. Assistant City Manager Randall has continued to provide day-to-day oversight of the three utilities throughout this period.
As part of the City's five-year strategic plan, Independence for All, the City Council has challenged city staff to control long-term finances, optimize resources, improve customer service, provide for growth, and ensure public infrastructure is built and maintained to a superior standard.
Focusing on these goals, and capitalizing on the need to fill the IPL Director position, staff is recommending that the City Council take this opportunity to maximize these goals by enacting the provisions of Section 3.14 of the Charter of the City of Independence, Missouri, which states:
Section 3.14: The council by ordinance may provide that the electric utility department shall operate other public utilities, enterprises, and services which the city may operate; and also by ordinance may change the title of the department and of the director to department of public utilities and director of public utilities respectively; provided that nothing herein shall prohibit the council by ordinance from creating a separate department or departments for any one or more such other utilities, enterprises, and services.
There are several strategic reasons for this recommendation, including:
1. This maneuver formalizes the operating paradigm that has been working effectively since November 2016, wherein-which Assistant City Manager Randall oversees the day-to-day affairs of the three utilities.
2. This maneuver mimics the operating paradigm of other peer communities, such as Springfield, MO (Springfield City Utilities) and Columbia, MO (Columbia Water & Light).
3. This maneuver will save IPL an estimated $300,000 in salary and benefit costs by not filling the Director of IPL position.
4. This maneuver demonstrates organizational efficiencies without compromising service delivery.
5. This maneuver further improves coordination of efforts among the three city-owned utilities.
7. This maneuver further enhances and accelerates implementation of the 28 recommendations from Management Partners as part of the IPL Financial and Management Audit in July 2017.
8. This maneuver aligns with the four goals of Independence for All.
Though Assistant City Manager Mark Randall will serve as Director Public Utilities, Dan Montgomery will remain as Director of Water, Lisa Phelps will remain as Director of Water Pollution Control, and Andy Boatright will remain as Deputy Director of Power & Light. Functional oversight responsibilities for these three functions will remain unchanged.
This proposal was presented by the City Manager to the Public Utilities Advisory Board on April 19. The PUAB voted unanimously to recommend approval of the proposal to the City Council.