Farmington city manager Vince Pastue has proposed a large scale reorganization at city hall and the Farmington Downtown Development Authority (DDA) that he believes will improve focus on business and economic development.
Based on reaction during Monday's city council workshop, officials agree with him.
Pastue will present the finalized plan at the council's Oct. 15 meeting and said he would post a copy on the city's website before that time, to allow the public time to review it. Highlights include:
- Creating an economic and community development department that would also encompass building and zoning code enforcement. Those services are currently housed with the public works department.
- Appointing Chuck Eudy public works superintendent and creating an assistant superintendent position. Eudy has been running the public works department since former director Kevin Gushman retired in August.
- Hiring a community and economic development director.
- Moving Farmington DDA director Annette Knowles' office to city hall and treating her position as an assistant to the city manager.
Pastue said the Farmington Public Safety records department could move into empty space created by the dispatch services move to Farmington Hills, which started Oct. 1. That would create office space for the new department. He said the reduction of staff in his office creates space for Knowles.
Less time on events, more on development
The DDA hasn't considered the proposal yet, Knowles said, and won't until the council moves it forward. The quasi-governmental body was created by the city, and its board members are appointed by the city council. But the DDA operates with separate funds, and its board is autonomous, she explained.
"I think anything that will help better position the city to achieve its goals should be considered," Knowles said of the proposal.
Pastue said moving Knowles into his office will allow her to shift her full attention to business development. He said the move is also expected to help address some of the DDA's long-term financial issues, given reductions in downtown property values.
Knowles said she currently spends a lot of time on events, "which has taken me away from doing things the board and the council think are more important." The DDA's events staff, headed by Janet Bloom, will continue to work out of the office on Grand River, she added.
"I think this is a very progressive move," council member JoAnne McShane said. "Citizens have said they want empty storefronts filled. I think this reorganization is exactly what we're striving for."
Mayor Tom Buck said the city can't expect to achieve its goals without making changes to its structure. "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and expecting different results," he said.