UPDATE: ‘Constituency concerns’ number 1 on new city manager's priority list

At the direction of new Peachtree City Manager Jim Pennington, this year's City Council retreat focused on more forward-thinking. Photo/John Munford.

UPDATED for print 03-26-11 — In his first major task as Peachtree City’s new city manager, Jim Pennington spent a good bit of time sharing his vision for setting goals and objectives for the city at the City Council retreat Friday.

The plan can be as simple as a list, or as complex as a thick “document,” Pennington said.

But one of the most important things is for the goals of that plan to be driven by the wishes of constituents, Pennington said.

“The big one for everyone is constituency concerns,” Pennington said. “If that does not become a priority in your decision making, I don’t know what does. It has to be an evaluation of what constituents want and what their expectations are.”

Pennington said in his limited experience here, and from watching City Council meetings online, that citizen expectations are very high here.

“This is not a sedentary community, not an ambivalent community,” Pennington said. “It’s vibrant, people love the city, and they came here for a reason, and they want it to continue at a very high level.”

And while planning can help achieve those goals, the plan won’t matter if it sits on a shelf collecting dust, Pennington said.

“Whatever the plans, the picture, the vision that’s set and the values you have, you’ve got to become passionate about it,” Pennington said. “And I don’t think I’ve met too many people in Peachtree City who are not passionate about the city in one form or another. You’ve got to be passionate about it or it’s not going to work.”


Pre-meeting story

New City Manager Jim Pennington reported to his first day of work Monday, but he’s already shaking things up a little bit in Peachtree City.

At Pennington’s direction, the format is being changed for the annual City Council retreat, which starts Friday at 8 a.m. at City Hall and will extend into Saturday with another 8 a.m. start.
(The schedule for staff presentations is posted at the bottom of this article.)

Previous retreats have focused largely on ongoing issues being handled and investigated by city staff, along with interaction between the various appointed boards and commissions which are appointed by council.

This year, however, the event is gearing up for more forward thinking through “strategic planning,” city officials said.

For example, while Leisure Services Director Randy Gaddo will make a presentation on the potential expansion of the Gathering Place, there won’t be a debate on the potential price of the project, said Administrative Services Director Nikki Vrana.

“It’s a planning retreat rather than a budget retreat,” Vrana said.

The city’s chiefs and directors have been asked to make presentations about their current state of affairs along with challenges that are being faced, Vrana said.

Among those potential issues might be whether it is possible for the departments to maintain their current levels of service given the economy, for example, Vrana said.

“It’s about creating a strategic plan for the city of Peachtree City, so the directors and chiefs can be working towards the goals that are developed by the council and manager,” Vrana said.

Pennington is expected to make a presentation and talk about several key topics including:

• The roles and responsibilities of the council, manager and city staff;

• What he feels the city’s most important asset is; and

• A reinforcement of the city’s mission statement and budget policies.

Following is the city-supplied schedule for the retreat's two days:

Friday, March 25

8:00 - 8:30
Jim Pennington

8:30 - 9:15
Information Technology
Matt Robinson

9:15 - 10:15
Nikki Vrana, Betsy Tyler, Ellece Brown, Linda Morton, Marcia Moran, Nancy Price

10:15 - 10:30

10:30 - 11:15
Community Development
David Rast, Joey Grisham, Tony Bernard, Dave Borkowski

11:15 - 12:00
Community Development
Tami Babb, David Rast

12:00 - 1:15
Lunch - on your own

1:30 - 2:30
Leisure Services
Randy Gaddo

2:30 - 3:15
Public Works
Mark Caspar

3:15 - 3:30

3:30 - 5:00
Public Works
Mark Caspar

Saturday, March 26

8:00 - 9:00
Fire Department
Chief Eiswerth

9:00 - 10:00
Police Department
Chief Clark

10:00 - 10:15 
10:15 - 10:45
Finance Department
Paul Salvatore

10:45 - 11:00
2011 Resident Survey  Results

11:00 - 11:30
Wrap up 
Jim Pennington

mudcat's picture
Joined: 10/26/2005
Ahhh, here's the answer. Grisham spoke yesterday

around 10:30. What did he have to say? Still flogging that retail pony?

Robert W. Morgan
Robert W. Morgan's picture
Joined: 10/26/2005
Strategic planning. The doctor is in the house

Now here is some good news. The new city manager shows up on Monday and obviously read the city charter - especially the part where city council creates general policy and the city manager implements it. I really like this guy and have not even met him. He's not going to be pushed around by political hacks with an agenda.

Welcome Jim Pennington!

moelarrycurly's picture
Joined: 10/17/2010
Dr. Pennington, Welcome (updated from initial post 3 hours ago)

In the spirit of fun and goodwill, I think we should all include our thoughts of what a bubble caption over Dr. Pennington's photo should read. Nothing mean-spirited or nasty, just laugh-out-loud funny. Self control is in order here, okay?

Me first..."Darn, I forgot to ask where they planted all the peach trees."

(I can do better, I know, now just share some of yours).

Updated.....Shazaammm! I'll have to do this more often. Sure shut the traps of a load of others on here by using the words "self-control and fun and goodwill", now didn't I? Kind of like a fresh spring breeze flowing thru the blog.....aaaahhhhh...

ptcjenn's picture
Joined: 01/24/2006
"Is that the last muffin?"

He looks like he's watching the table with coffee and snacks. And regretting not picking up a muffin while he had a chance.

I also like him so far, sounds like he's on the right track.

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