Developing and Maintaining a World Class City

By Christopher J. Russo, Former City Manager

(September 1, 2014) – is proving to be a very good year for Sunny Isles Beach. Much of what we planned for last year is yielding returns and long term projects are coming to fruition. There is an old saying: “it’s good enough for government work.” This was loosely translated to mean that government work is just “ok”, implying that corporate America always does it better. Sunny Isles Beach is set to change that stigma, through good management, including a strong policy of succession planning, the use of technology, responsible fiscal planning and an organization wide philosophy of world class service and maintenance.

City leaders and administration embraced an aggressive succession plan policy that ensures seamless service to our customers; residents, tourists, and the business community. A personnel study was conducted to evaluate current staffing levels and position functions to help achieve this objective. With a few minor adjustments, we are in good shape and have realized the benefits of this sense of responsibility by all levels of management.

With the rapidly growing use of technology, we have found ways to serve more customers, not only more efficiently but also more effectively. Another benefit of our technological advances is safety and transparency. Our Police Department is more responsive because we can deliver information to those in the field instantly. This is critical as our population grows and the safety services we provide must keep up with that growth. As a government, transparency is paramount, something the private sector does not have to contend with on a regular basis. The digitization of documents has streamlined that process and provides for greater ease of document accessibility. Customers can virtually search and view thousands of official documents on their own through our website.

Through our successes we reap the benefits of increased property values. This has resulted in a decrease in the millage rate for homeowners. This is great news for our residents. As good stewards of your tax dollars, we understand that this may not always be the case and have planned responsibly for the future. We are forecasting several years out to plan for what infrastructure needs will be required as well as saving and investing funds to cover those expenses. Although actual costs for large projects five, ten, or more years away are difficult to predict, we budget accordingly and modify as projects begin to take shape.

Managing a world class level of service requires the commitment of every employee. In some cases it may be more cost effective to use contracted services for some government functions and projects. However, in either case those that represent the City, serve our community day to day, must be committed to achieve a world class level of service. We are developing our current employees and recruiting future hires to accomplish that goal and some day soon “good enough for Sunny Isles Beach” will be translated to mean “top of the line”.