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Does Park Hills Need a City Administrator? Pros Say, It Would Help

Does the City of Park Hills need a professional administrator?
That was the topic of conversation at Monday night's city council caucus meeting.
Currently, the city of 3,000 people, operates without a city administrator, or chief administrative officer (CAO). 
Meghan Sandfoss, Associate Director for Public Administration and Community Development at the Northern Kentucky Area Development District (NKADD), explained on Monday that a city administrator could write ordinances and resolutions, and be a liaison to businesses for recruitment and retention.
Mayor Matt Mattone said that Park Hills is such a small city that a part-time administrator may be appropriate.
"Part-time is 22 hours without having to contribute to the retirement system," said Sandfoss. "Three other cities under 4,000 (population) have a city administrator, Wilder, Crestview Hills, and Crescent Springs. Cold Spring has just under 6,000 and Highland Heights has just under 7,000. It wouldn't be unheard of to have a full-time CAO."
Mayor Mattone wasn't sure that the needs of the city warranted a city manager.
"My role is to bring the most to the city that would cause the least tax burden for the residents," he said. "I am neither for or against it. But, I mean, the city will always be landlocked. We have limited resources. Would the CAO help us identify things that would help the city?"
Elisha Chamberlain, CAO in the City of Ludlow, told the mayor that he could be extremely well-versed, but that does not make him a city manager.
"Your problems are due to a lack of knowledge and skill set," she told the mayor. "You have some gaps."
"I don't know that this is the savior of Park Hills," said Mattone. "It may improve the quality of the city, but I think it is the dialogue that is important."
Gary Huff, who retired last year as CAO in the City of Ft. Wright, explained how he turned that city around from a negative cash flow to a positive cash flow, but it took awhile.
"The key to everything is to know where you are going," he said. "That's why you have to have a 5-year capital improvement plan."
Huff responded to a question from a council member about the proposed Park Hills city budget that had a $60,000 deficit, and Huff, who volunteers on the city's finance committee, said that budget should never have come to the committee.
"The numbers that were presented were not realistic," he said. "It is a great wish-list but there is no filter." He said a city manager could be that filter.
Mayor Mattone asked if the figure of $30,000 was anywhere near a realistic salary for a part-time CAO, to which Huff replied, "You get what you pay for." Sandfoss thought $40,000 would widen the pool a little.
Mattone said the first step would be to create the position. He said then the city could work with its personnel committee, and then find a way to pay for the position.
Other notes:
Marty Boyer, who lives on Altavia Road, offered his assessment of the city's website, and told council that it should use Squarespace when it upgrades. He cited five items that he and his team noticed: security, space, analytics, data retention and backup, and cost. Council thanked him for his work and his analysis of the website.
Councilwoman Pam Spoor said that the city is interested in creating a historic book of Park Hills, through Arcadia Publications, and asked residents if they had old photos to bring them to the city and have them scanned so that they can be used in the book. She said they would like to have the pictures as soon as possible so they can work to create the pictorial history of the city.
Councilman Jason Reser said that anyone who would like to help clean up the city can meet at the city building April 8, and join others to clean in the city from 9 a.m. to noon. The city will have coffee and donuts, and provide the gloves, and bags, as well as a bright T-shirt.  
Written by Patricia A. Scheyer, RCN contributor
Top photo: Meghan Sandfoss (left) and Elishia Chamberlain speak