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Establishing a Community Development Dept.

Suburb Repairman

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Oh great and powerful throbbing brain...

Well, I'm about to graduate from college and my internship/PT job will be morphing into a full-time position. I have been asked by my City Administrator & Mayor to begin putting together the groundwork for a Community Development department. Also, I am supposed to put together a salary request for myself beginning in June.

I'm having a hard time coming up with a salary figure because my circumstances here are a little strange. I'll have one year of experience under my belt, but I'll be stepping into a role as a Director. I've been doing mainly policy formulation type activities such as ordinance & law research and ordinance interpretation. I'm also serving as the webmaster and have begun building a GIS. We are finishing a Comprehensive Plan and I will be responsible for implementing it. Currently, I do not do plat review, though I may play a more active role once we get an in-house City Engineer. My City Administrator is making around 50K. I'm thinking that 36K-38K would be reasonable based on what mid-level planners are making in the area (I figured that's about halfway between an entry-level and director salary). I also need to put together a job description and I have no idea where to start.

I'm also wanting to put together a Community Development department. Here are the activities I'm considering for inclusion in the department:

1. Planning
2. Building
3. Code Enforcement
4. Economic Development
5. Engineering (our public works is currently privatized)

Any thoughts? If you have any organizational charts and job descriptions for Community Development departments, that would be extremely helpful. Thanks a lot for your help!
 

Repo Man

Cyburbian
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Sounds like you have an awesome opportunity here. I am sure there are a lot of planners on here who would love the opportunity to build a department from the ground up. I guess I would recommend looking at what other Directors are being paid in the area. You could come up with some type of a formula be researcing what other City Administrators and Directors make and then use the average percentage to derive a fair salary. Say you find that the average Planning Director makes 80 percent of what the average City Admin makes, then you could ask for $40,000/year
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
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10,080
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One thing you need to do is build training into the budget and into a work program for the first couple of years. It is very hard to start a new program, and much harder when you don't have the experience of having worked in an established program. Also make sure they have funds for your state APA and other organizations.

I'll speak to the economic development part: If you could take all of the IEDC courses, I would recommend it. Space them out over a few years. Start quickly, though, with the introductory course and the one on managing an economic development organization. Statutes vary so much between states, and your circumstances will dictate needs so much that it is difficult to say what you really should do. If there are development vehicles authorized by your state such as redevelopment authorities or community development authorities, be sure to investigate their merits.

Consider continuing to outsource your engineering. Do you really need a full-time person? What are you giving up in return for one? Unless they know how to do everything, you will still have to hire out. Our contract engineer has pointed out that they have had over 200 people in their office working on projects for our community. Some have been general civil engineers and others are highly specialized.

Definitely look into the availability of funding to support formation of your department/organization. Don't stop with state programs. The federal government also offers funds through the EDA, USDA, and other departments.

Lastly, on the salary issue, be careful not to over-price yourself. It sounds like you are in a community which does not pay its employees much, if the city administrator is only making $50K. Mid-thirties might be about right, but it is hard to say from here. Have they given you an indication of what they expect to pay? Have they given you a total budget for the department?
 

michaelskis

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who would be responsible for zoning enforcement?

Sounds like a great opprotunity...

I would also make sure some one has experence working with HUD, and maybe get a CDBG. It is a great tool for low/mod income areas.
 

Suburb Repairman

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Cardinal said:
One thing you need to do is build training into the budget and into a work program for the first couple of years. It is very hard to start a new program, and much harder when you don't have the experience of having worked in an established program. Also make sure they have funds for your state APA and other organizations.

I'll speak to the economic development part: If you could take all of the IEDC courses, I would recommend it. Space them out over a few years. Start quickly, though, with the introductory course and the one on managing an economic development organization. Statutes vary so much between states, and your circumstances will dictate needs so much that it is difficult to say what you really should do. If there are development vehicles authorized by your state such as redevelopment authorities or community development authorities, be sure to investigate their merits.

Consider continuing to outsource your engineering. Do you really need a full-time person? What are you giving up in return for one? Unless they know how to do everything, you will still have to hire out. Our contract engineer has pointed out that they have had over 200 people in their office working on projects for our community. Some have been general civil engineers and others are highly specialized.

Definitely look into the availability of funding to support formation of your department/organization. Don't stop with state programs. The federal government also offers funds through the EDA, USDA, and other departments.

Lastly, on the salary issue, be careful not to over-price yourself. It sounds like you are in a community which does not pay its employees much, if the city administrator is only making $50K. Mid-thirties might be about right, but it is hard to say from here. Have they given you an indication of what they expect to pay? Have they given you a total budget for the department?
I'm planning on getting a certificate in Community Development through Penn State online; will that count toward continuing ed/training for IEDC? Eventually I plan on getting a MPA with emphasis in planning or economic development. Also, I think University of Texas at San Antonio has special programs in economic development to help us out, but I haven't had a chance to really research it.

I'm hoping to keep the engineering outsourced as long as possible. The problem is were looking down the barrel of some explosive growth here as soon as water becomes more available. Our main engineering needs involve plat & construction plan reviews right now. I'm not particularly happy with our current firm, so I'll probably start looking at others.

My town is going to have a hard time qualifying for grants and funding due to our demographics. We've looked into an Economic Development Corporation, but are limited by restrictions on sales tax for funding.

Mayor said he was thinking about mid-upper 30s for my starting salary. There's also the possibility of my City writing a home-rule charter and moving to a Council-Manager form of government, which would result in a pay raise for my Administrator.
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
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10,080
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34
Suburb Repairman said:
I'm planning on getting a certificate in Community Development through Penn State online; will that count toward continuing ed/training for IEDC? Eventually I plan on getting a MPA with emphasis in planning or economic development. Also, I think University of Texas at San Antonio has special programs in economic development to help us out, but I haven't had a chance to really research it.

I'm hoping to keep the engineering outsourced as long as possible. The problem is were looking down the barrel of some explosive growth here as soon as water becomes more available. Our main engineering needs involve plat & construction plan reviews right now. I'm not particularly happy with our current firm, so I'll probably start looking at others.

My town is going to have a hard time qualifying for grants and funding due to our demographics. We've looked into an Economic Development Corporation, but are limited by restrictions on sales tax for funding.

Mayor said he was thinking about mid-upper 30s for my starting salary. There's also the possibility of my City writing a home-rule charter and moving to a Council-Manager form of government, which would result in a pay raise for my Administrator.
The Penn State program is interesting, but it is not the one desired at hiring time. The initials you need are CEcD, or to a lesser extent, EDFP. Depending on how many years of experience you have in economic development, you can register to take the exam without having the six courses through IEDC (four required and two elective) until the window closes at the end of the year. I guess the way to put it is that while there are a handful of online or week-long ED programs offered by some schools, they don't carry much weight outside of among a very small group of people. You may even find that the costs are not much different.

It's funny to hear you talk of a council-manager form of government. We are facing a referendum to go to a mayor and council. I hope it does not pass. The sponsors do not want any form of professional city management, just a local hick elected by the people.
 

mike gurnee

Cyburbian
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3,066
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31
A civil engineer will command more $$ than the administrator's salary...forget it. Take the long haul on ED or any other credentials, as you are going to be rather busy. But make sure enough money is budgeted for your training. Planning often becomes a part time function for the director in such organizations. Enjoy!
 
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