Rabu, 13 Mei 2009

Fontana 101

I thought I would start my blogging experience with a little information about how Fontana works. I am routinely surprised, when talking to citizens and business people, about the misunderstanding how city government works. So, at the risk of over simplifying, let me explain a little about how Fontana is organized.

The City of Fontana is a corporation. The Board of Directors of this corporation is the elected Mayor and City Council members. The Mayor and City Council members, five in all, have an equal say in setting policies and providing oversight to the operations of the City.

The Mayor and City Council Members are part-time members of this corporation and are elected by the citizens based upon a platform of important issues. As such, each elected official works very hard to represent the needs of the majority of the community. It takes three members to agree on an issue before any action can be taken. In Fontana, we pride ourselves in working towards collaborative decisions that can be supported by all five council members. When unanimous support can not be achieved on any specific issue, the majority rules.

The Mayor and City Council hire two individuals who work directly for them. One is the City Attorney and the other is the City Manager. The City Attorney works for the law firm of Best Best & Krieger LLP and is responsible for providing legal advice and direction to the City Council. The City Manager, the position which I hold, acts as the corporation’s Chief Executive Officer and is responsible for the implementation of City Council policies and for following the requirements of city code. All employees of the City of Fontana work for the City Manager.

The Mayor and City Council set policy, authorize the allocation of resources towards the accomplishment of those polices and provide control and oversight to the City Manager. For instance, in January 2009, the City Council set new policy goals for the city, several of which dealt with the creation and enhancement of new community parks. It is my job to take that direction, lay out work plans for the various departments towards the accomplishment of those goals and then to recommend a budget for next year that allocates resources to those accomplishments. One of the foundational priorities set by the City Council has been that whatever programs and priorities we try to implement, the City will live within our means by not spending more than a conservative forecast of the monies that we take in.

In June of each year, the Mayor and City Council review my recommended budget for the upcoming year which starts on July 1st. The proposed budget not only includes a lot of numbers, it contains a great deal of policy discussion regarding what is possible to be accomplished given the resources available. In Fontana, the Mayor and Council focus as much time reviewing planned accomplishments as they do reviewing the cost of providing those services. Each year, the Mayor and City Council recommend a number of changes during the budget review process. My job, once the budget is approved, is to accomplish what I have committed to do. The Mayor and City Council review the budget at least quarterly in public meetings and are provided with monthly budget report updates.

Reporting directly to me are the Deputy City Manager in charge of all administrative functions (David Edgar), the Deputy City Manager in charge of all development activities (Debbie Brazill), the Police Chief (Rod Jones), the Fire Chief (Terry Welsh), the Director of Human Resources (Ed Raya), and the Director of Special Projects and Redevelopment (Ray Bragg). City departments reporting directly to the Deputy City Manager of Administration are Management Services, the Bureau of Records and Elections, Technology Services, and Community Services. City departments reporting directly to the Deputy City Manager of Development are Community Development, Engineering, Public Works, and Building and Safety. I meet with all of the department heads at least once a week to address work issues.

At the risk of confusing things further, in additional to being the City Manager of the City of Fontana, I am also the Executive Director of the Fontana Redevelopment Agency, Executive Director of the Fontana Housing Authority, Executive Director of the Fontana Fire Protection District, Executive Director of the Public Financing Authority, and President of the Fontana Community Foundation. The Mayor and City Council each serve as the Board of Directors for those organizations as well.

We all wear a lot of hats around this place. Each day we come to work we learn something new and I am looking forward to this new blogging experience as a way of keeping open the communication lines between City Hall and the community we serve.

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