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Newsletter to Outline City Improvements & Achievements – July 2023

Introduction / Improvements

In short, this article was developed to outline some of the City of Lake City’s recent achievements. I am proud to report that our collective stakeholders including staff, elected/appointed personnel, and volunteers and/or part time or seasonal staff have come together and made measurable progress in many program areas in a short timeframe. I am confident we would not have been so successful if we did not have support from the collective group, so I am hopeful our staff, personnel, and area stakeholders are happy with the progress thus far, especially since we have continually operated within the confines of a lean structure. In addition, we sought, obtained, and managed grant and ARPA funds, which allowed us to accomplish many goals and projects with the delineated funds while not placing an additional direct tax burden on the city’s residents.

Thus far, the LC team has realized measurable gains in several areas that were identified by the city’s Master Plan, which was a citywide collaborative effort to outline and drive specific goals for the future. We have already addressed several program areas, such as the grocery store, city administrator, water quality, thriving business, and parking. We must continually revisit the Master Plan to ensure our goals are realized. From my perspective, we are only getting started so I do not share this information enough, but I wanted to take this opportunity to thank our team by outlining the progress we have made during a relatively brief period.

In this newsletter:

• To ALL Staff/Personnel/Stakeholders—- THANK YOU!!!

• List of OUR Collective Achievements

• Staff Achievements (for non-elective staff)

• Timekeeping Achievements (for elective/appointed staff)

• Closing

To ALL Staff/Personnel/Stakeholders—- THANK YOU!!!

The ensuing list does not capture all our achievements during the delineated period, but I thought it was long overdue for me to outline our progress. I am sharing some of our recent achievements, and I want to publicly thank all of you for your hard work. I believe we all should be justifiably proud of our progress. As always, I would like to thank you for ALL you do for the City of Lake City!

List of OUR Collective Achievements

This is not an exhaustive list, but I wanted to take a moment to outline our progress, highlight program improvements and general achievements during the defined period, including:

First, I believe we arguably took a bold or one could argue a wise approach by working with a local consultant to develop a new website with an area stakeholder, thereby saving thousands of dollars for taxpayers, and we’ve already observed multiple improvements with his progressive approach or vision to develop a website that is flexible and gives us strong communication tools to receive and disseminate information, some areas of progress include:

• We will realize a cost avoidance of between $15,000.00 – $40,000.00 on this project compared to several quotes.

• Installed a contact form and a related process to log complaints with the new website, so staff and external stakeholders have a mechanism to share concerns with the City Administrator for evaluation and dissemination. If you have a question or concern or if someone asks, please forward this link. Contact – City of Lake City.

• Updated the website so stakeholders have a direct link to City Council meetings via Microsoft Teams, so please share this link. Join City Council Meeting – City of Lake City.

• Ensured the public can make online payments on the city’s website, please share this link. Online Payments – City of Lake City.

• Added an events page to the city’s website, so all stakeholders have easy access to upcoming events. Events – City of Lake City.

• Installed a local contact ‘directory’ on the new website. Directory – City of Lake City.

• Ability to post and share information across websites and Facebook.

• Added a document library to the city’s new website; whereby, we will continue to get relevant information on the website for all to review/reference. Documents – City of Lake City.

Additional Significant Purchases & Improvements

• Purchased the Grand Central Hotel lot.

• Purchased a life safety trench box for DPW.

• Utilized available Land Bank Authority funds to purchase and tear down the ‘old’ bakery.

• Resurfacing of the tennis/pickleball/basketball courts.

• Installed and continue to maintain beautiful flowers downtown.

• Resurfaced multiple city streets.

• Obtained approval for boat launch/ramp improvements at Miltner Beach, and this project has been approved and scheduled.

• Installed new campground hosts at the campgrounds.

• Developed new brochures and related program documents for the campgrounds.

• Staff also painted the doors of the campgrounds, and we installed all new fire rings.

• Hired a part-time Ordinance Officer who has been instrumental in driving initiatives including a hugely successful citywide cleanup, he has been evaluating ordinances and making recommendations for revisions, helping us pursue grants, and he is currently working on the rental program and a range of parking and blight related concerns.

• Tracked ARPA funds and distributed a onetime payment to ‘essential’ workers.

• Sanitary drain pond improvements to address damage.

• Transitioned to a Credit Union which has already saved the city money because we are not charged fees/penalties.

• Implemented additional fiscal controls and oversight of all departments including DPW and the fire company.

• Performed maintenance and large repairs on multiple important DPW and fire vehicles.

• Purchased items requested by the fire company.

• Hired a fulltime City Administrator.

• Utilized a vendor to seek/retain seasonal Staff, and thus far this has been a successful program because we were having a really tough time gettng ANY applicants in recent years.

• Developed a comprehensive application process with related policies, procedures, and update forms/documents.

• Developed a Capital Improvement Plan.

• Assisted with the development and implementation of a Parks and Recreation Master Plan.

• Purchased a flail mower to replace a long dated and/or broken-down unit.

• Purchased a speed/radar trailer to slow traffic.

• Sought multiple grants and successfully obtained some of the requested funds.

• Developed a new database for the city cemetery’s use.

• Developed multiple documents for MEDC and completed their training series in our pursuit of MEDC certification.

• Developed and/or updated Zoning related documents.

• Developed and/or updated Planning documents.

• Collectively developed a 5-year Parks and Recreation Master Plan.

• Reconciled a longstanding Fire Department payment/budget discrepancy.

• Implemented additional financial controls and oversight into the fire company.

• Developed/evaluated long term options to address the fire company.

• Developed ordinances, implemented a plan, and associated documents to address rental properties.

As always, we are looking for opportunities to leverage technology to ensure appropriate documents are retained as per established guidelines, and further we will seek opportunities to implement measures so all stakeholders can communicate more efficiently and effectively, ensure we continually achieve congruence with codified standards, and further ensure that we are meeting or exceeding expectations from the community. In recent years many entities, including local governments’ have devoted a significant amount of time/effort and money to ensure an appropriate IT infrastructure has been implemented, and the City of Lake City will likewise continue with our efforts to ensure we are effectively managing these IT related programs and efforts, which are high-cost activities though could have a significant or deleterious impact if not managed appropriately, especially in the context of data loss/breach, or inappropriate conduct. In this context, we Installed a comprehensive Information Technology program to address hardware/so􀅌ware needs, and further ensure these needs are continually being assessed and monitored by our IT vendor.

• Hardened physical security related to IT.

• Continual vendor-based monitoring and support to backup hardware/information/data and ensure security needs are addressed.

• For several reasons, we will continue to move ALL programs to a ‘cloud’ based environment, and we will seek opportunities to measure our effectiveness.

• Implemented a new telephone system, and we now can transfer calls, setup separate voicemail accounts, forward calls, ‘vacate’ a structure due to emergent concerns and then continue operations elsewhere, and the referenced vendor is responsible for rectifying issues within four hours.

• Purchased Surface tablets for City Council so they did not need to use personal devices.

• Installed city email addresses for all elective and non-elective staff for security, continuity, and data retention/management.

An essential element of managing our costs is ensuring that we are continually assessing employee hours, including overtime along with seasonal/part-time staffing hours. These staffing hours must be routinely reported to the City Council, so we can ensure our staffing levels and expenditures are congruent with expectations. In addition, this policy was developed to ensure that we have a clear process that can be fully understood by all stakeholders and will limit our exposure due to any failures to comply. The Lake City Area Fire Department will continue to coordinate the submission and approval of fire company wages through the fire board, though final approval will always reside with City Council.

• Developed and forwarded an overtime log for DPW to maintain/log hours and implemented a timekeeping policy whereby staff are responsible for logging their start time and end time into Microsoft Teams daily.

• Staff are responsible for communicating leave time requests in Outlook following discussion with their manager.

• Sent staff to train in Lansing pertaining to water and MIOSHA requirements.

• Successfully negotiated with the union employee’s whereby they saw a pay raise and Blue Cross Blue Shield PPO coverage.

• Management staff transitioned to a MERS of Michigan 401 retirement.

• Hired a part-time City Assessor at a cost savings for the city.

As evidenced by our non-elective staff policy, we are actively assessing our policies and procedures to ensure our actions are congruent with standards. We did not have a codified process for non-elective. staff, so this policy was put into place so we could articulate these requirements to internal/external stakeholders, especially in the context of urgency because we cannot pay elective staff beyond what is outlined in the City Charter for their respective position. We also do not have a mechanism to mandate that elective officials cover various office functions for a prolonged or unreasonable period, though elective staff have provided support while in the office, which is outlined in the charter though prolonged periods or additional tasks are not captured in the City Charter.

• The non-elective staff timesheet was developed to ensure our policies, practices and actions are congruent with established standards.

• Elective Staff must ensure any time submitted represents additional work unrelated or beyond your respective appointed or elected office. – Examples include office coverage due to leave, training, or other staff absence which necessitates additional office support.

– As evidenced by the City Charter, elective staff are responsible for managing their elective work, including their work hours and related functions, though additional payments shall NOT be related to the elective office.

• The only permissible hours are those approved by the City, and further additional payment hours shall not be related to the specific employee’s elective office or appointment.

• Sent available City Council Members to new council/board member training and refresher course with Michigan Municipal League.


In closing, I will continually work with the collective city council to drive the city’s projects and effectively support our team members.’ Longer term, I am hopeful that staff will have the confidence and requisite buy-in to perform much of this work with less direct support from me, especially when it’s time for the specific program area or job function to take over (collecting program monies/cemetery and campground functions/inspections, general mowing and cleanup, etc.). My goal is to develop confidence, professionalism, and abilities within our team, so they are ready to take on any project or challenge as we strive to provide the highest level of service for our citizens. I/we will continue to keep you apprised of our progress.

Robert C. Vautaw, MPA

City Administrator

City of Lake City, Michigan

115 W John St, P.O. Box I

Lake City, MI 49651

Office: 231.839.4561


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