New organizational chart for city presented

Published 12:00 am Monday, July 9, 2001

[07/05/01]

Paul Rogers highest-paid city employee

Former City Clerk Paul Rogers became the highest paid city employee Friday when he was hired as Vicksburg’s new strategic planner.

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Rogers, who served as the clerk for 13 years before retiring in 1999, will be paid $98,500 a year to work with city division heads, formally department heads, on budgets and other projects.

Mayor Laurence Leyens said even though Rogers’ salary will be more than even the mayor’s, it will be a saving compared with the $60 per hour Rogers had been paid as a consultant to the city for the last two years.

The mayor’s annual salary is $56,531.

“Paul Rogers has a set of skills that is non-replaceable,” Leyens said. “The point of the matter is that we don’t have any other choice.”

The position is part of a new organizational chart for the city proposed Monday by Leyens at the first board meeting for the new administration.

Under the organization, the 16 division heads will report directly to the entire Board of Mayor and Aldermen.

In previous administrations, city departments were divided among the three elected officials who, in turn, reported to the full board.

“It’s going to make it a lot better for the department heads because they won’t have to feel like they are being disloyal to one board member by talking to another,” said North Ward Alderman Gertrude Young.

The new organizational chart also reduces the number of departments by moving some departments under a single division head who will prepare budgets and report to the board.

“We’re trying to get the element of politics out of the business of the city,” Leyens said.

The board on Friday also hired two employees to fill positions created this week.

John Allen was hired as the city television programmer, and Robert Hubbard was hired as community improvement coordinator. Leyens said both positions will probably work under a city public relations coordinator once that position is created.

In other matters, the board:

Tabled awarding bids for installing two picnic shelters at Riverfront Park because of budget shortfalls.

Approved closing Washington Street between Crawford and South streets Aug. 26 from 4 p.m. until 10 p.m., for a fund-raiser to benefit Mike Pope. South Ward Alderman Sid Beauman voted against the closing, which includes waiving the city’s open-container law for the event. Beauman said later he voted against it because he felt alcohol at the event could not be contained to that one area.

Awarded a contract to Eagle Lake Lawn Service for $7,500 to cut grass at Beulah Cemetery.

Authorized the mayor to execute an agreement with Mississippi Home Corporation for a $1,125 grant for a housing education and counseling session.

Approved the claims docket.

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen will meet again at 10 a.m. July 16 at City Hall.

Division heads told to clean up departments

In his first meeting with the heads of the city’s departments, Mayor Laurence Leyens Friday told division heads to clean up their departments.

“Any politically appointed person in your department, any person that’s in a position they are not qualified to be in as leaders, you need to reassess it,” Leyens said.

The city’s three newly elected officials, sworn in Sunday, addressed the 16 heads of the city’s departments and unveiled how they planned to do business over the next four years.

Leyens stressed that departments will not be micro-managed and that division heads will be held accountable for the productivity of their departments.

Under a new organizational chart approved Friday, the city work force is made up of 16 divisions. Each is headed by a division head responsible for presenting budgets, job descriptions and employee evaluations to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen.

It will be up to the division heads to train or transfer those not qualified.

“If they’re in the wrong place and they were simply appointed by a previous administration, then you need to do the right thing and you need to do it now,” Leyens said. “We will support that decision.”

The meeting with the heads of departments, held regularly under previous administrations, was open to the media and televised on the city’s cable channel 23 for the first time. Leyens said he hoped having the television on would make the dialogue more honest and help get the community more involved in city government.

“There will be no politics in the way we do business,” Leyens said.

One phone number to be used to call for city services

While closing one door, Vicksburg’s newly elected officials said they are opening another to better communicate with the public.

Mayor Laurence Leyens announced Friday plans to create one phone number for all city services. The new number will be answered 24 hours a day by an operator who will direct calls to the appropriate departments, Leyens said.

Separately, the city is installing a locking mechanism on the back door of City Hall, on the south side. The lock will be electronically controlled, and only city employees will be authorized to use the entrance.

With the new phone number that is expected to go into operation within six months, residents will be able to call anytime day or night and speak to a person who can process calls for departments when they reopen. Leyens also said a data-base system will be put in place to allow the administration to monitor how long it takes for service requests to be filled by city departments.

“We should start thinking about the tax base as a customer and build one customer service number for the City of Vicksburg,” Leyens said.

Currently, city departments are listed individually in the phone book, but Leyens said he wants Vicksburg to have one number for all departments. With the new phone system, even if a residents does not know which department would handle a problem, the caller could be routed to the proper department by the operator.

For example, Leyens said, if a citizen calls at midnight to report a leaking gas meter, a work order would be sent to the gas department the next day noting the time the call came in. The system would also note when the work was done, allowing division heads and the administration to monitor department productivity.

“We no longer have to hope that someone got around to it,” he said . “There will be a trail.”

While the new phone system will provide greater access to city departments, Leyens said a lock is needed on the back door to keep people from entering City Hall and wandering around.

“The problem is people are still going through the back door and going up the stairs when the guard is not looking,” Leyens said.

He said the lock will be installed next week.