Farmington city council members unanimously approved a plan Monday that will ramp up economic development efforts, with big changes at city hall and the Farmington Downtown Development Authority (DDA).
City manager Vince Pastue fleshed out some details of the plan he proposed at an Oct. 1 city council workshop, which would move DDA director Annette Knowles into a position as assistant to the city manager, with an office at city hall. The plan also includes a new Community and Economic Development department and comes with a price tag of $25,000.
The plan was designed to address the city council's economic development goals, along with the challenges and opportunities the city faces, from aging shopping centers to the city and DDA budget reductions, Pastue said. The retirement of public works director Kevin Gushman provided the opportunity to look at staffing changes, he added.
Building inspections and code enforcement will move into the new department, Pastue added. When it comes to the DDA, events staff will remain in place, but Pastue will essentially act as director. He said the DDA board will have the option of "firing" him if they feel the change is not a benefit.
The DDA would continue to pay a portion of Knowles' salary, and after the meeting, Pastue said about 75 percent of her time would stay focused in downtown Farmington. Knowles would also have more resources to direct efforts toward business retention and recruitment and infrastructure projects.
Pastue said he would also become more involved in public works; that department will lose one full-time maintenance worker, replaced by a seasonal staffer who would work October through March.
Mayor Tom Buck asked for clarification on Knowles' job title. Pastue said as assistant to the city manager, she would provide support for the manager's office and serve as Main Street downtown revitalization program coordinator.
He said an assistant city manager would have "line authority" when the city manager is away; Knowles will not.
"I think this is a very creative reorganizational plan on Vince's part," council member JoAnne McShane said, adding the structure "moves Farmington forward, and I'm all for moving Farmington forward. This does a lot to give us more for our money than the current plan."
Council member Bill Galvin pointed out that economic development has been a point of discussion since last year's city council election. He suggested naming the document the "Farmington Forward Plan".