Archive for Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Tonganoxie’s administrator puts focus on city needs

April 13, 2005

Mike Yanez's first week on the job as Tonganoxie's new city administrator went as one might expect.

He met lots of people -- and, yes, he's hoping there isn't going to be a test on their names. He asked his staff lots of questions -- and, yes, he's hoping they bear with him. He jotted a list of to-do's on a dry-erase board that hangs on the wall across from his office desk -- and, yes, there will be other issues added to the list.

"It's been a pretty intense week," Yanez said Friday.

But all in all, Yanez, who came to Tonganoxie after a stint as Eudora's first city administrator, is pleased with what he's hearing from local residents.

"I haven't heard a lot of people coming in and saying we need to change this, do that," Yanez said. ''... I'm hearing a lot of positive reactions about services we provide and the way we provide services."

And for those people who have some doubts about city hall, Yanez said he'll meet with them to hear their perspective.

And he's spending a lot of time evaluating what he's seeing and hearing.

"I'm trying to find out what is Tonganoxie," he said. "What are we today."

And after finding consensus, he'll move forward in formulating a plan for Tonganoxie of the future.

But Yanez has a few issues on that to-do list anyway. One is the pay plan for city employees. He's heard complaints from both elected officials and from staff that the existing pay plan is confusing.

"I do want a pay plan that makes sense," he said Friday.

And the reason is simple.

"I have to be able to recruit and retain good employees," Yanez said, adding that he's competing with other cities in the area.

Another issue that's facing city officials is the school district's plans to construct a new middle school on land that's southeast of the intersection of Washington and Pleasant streets. The question for the city to answer is how far it will go in providing infrastructure -- streets, sewers, water lines -- for the new building.

"That's an issue we'll be dealing with in late April or early May, concerning city involvement in construction of the new school," Yanez said.

In addition, the new administrator needs time to get up to speed on other city projects, including the new sewage treatment plant. Soon, he and staff members will begin work on the 2006 budget.

"I'm managing a multimillion-dollar corporation," he said.

And as he guides the city's staff, he wants everyone at city hall to remember two principles: be accountable and be credible.

But for now, he's listening and learning -- and trying to evaluate issues while he's, in turn, being evaluated by everyone who meets him.

"I realize I have a steep learning curve," Yanez said, "because it's my style to listen and learn before I start formulating my own professional agenda."

And on the personal side of his life, Yanez, who moved to Tonganoxie on March 15, said he's enjoying himself as one of the community's newest residents.

"I have enjoyed my residency so far in Tonganoxie," he said. "We have some really nice restaurants and shops.

"I feel good being here."

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