PEOPLE Don Magner New Richardson city manager to focus on city facilities, infrastructure
BY ALEXANDER WILLIS
CITY MANAGER RESPONSIBILITIES
Oversees a combined operating budget of $330.79 million for fiscal year 2021-22 Directs the equivalent of 1,032 full-time employees for FY 2021-22 Ensures efficient and equitable services for more than 119,469
In the wake of Richardson City Manager Dan Johnson’s retirement in late February, City Council was quick to tap Deputy City Manager Don Magner as his replacement. Having worked for the city in various roles for more than 25 years, Magner said he has developed a strong sense of what he considers to be Richardson’s strengths, weaknesses and opportunities for growth. After sitting down and speaking with Community Impact Newspaper , Magner shared some of those beliefs as well as his plans to help lead Richardson.
doing our core missions in a good way, we won’t be able to do Wild- flower Festivals; we won’t be able to do Cottonwood Festivals because people expect that the core missions of your service delivery are going to be exceptional. DO YOU HAVE ANY GOALS FOR THE CITY IN YOUR TIME AS RICHARDSON CITY MANAGER? Short term, one of my main goals is to really rebuild our city manager’s office team and really bring in a couple of assistant city managers that can compliment the skill sets and the experience of our existing team. ... I think long term, I want to make sure that we successfully implement the 2021 bond program, but more specifically, I want to make sure that we are able to recommend and deliver on a library and City Hall renovation project that the community will really be proud of. These buildings, in my opinion, are ways that we are going to deliver on programs and services, and part of the goal of the renovations is to make that experience for our users more enjoyable [and] more safe. Richardson residents Keeps an eye on what is happening in the city’s 29 square miles SOURCES: CITY OF RICHARDSON, U.S. CENSUS BUREAU/ COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER
TALK ABOUT THE ROLE OF A CITY MANAGER AND HOW THAT POSITION WORKS WITH RICHARDSON STAFF. I would say a city manager func- tions pretty much like a chief execu- tive officer in most organizations; one of my most important roles as city manager will be to make sure that I empower and support our team to really accomplish the council’s vision by delivering on the tactics and strategies that the council adopted. WHAT ARE SOME BEST PRAC- TICES FOR WORKING WITH THE MAYOR AND CITY COUNCIL? I believe that the council is charged with setting the vision [and] goals and choosing the public policy for the community. As city manager, it’s my job to make sure that I provide them with advice on these matters so that they can really make the best choices for the community. To do that, I think it’s really important to make sure that we’re providing the council with complete, accurate and timely information when they’re going through those deliberations about public policy.
I think another best practice is once that policy [or] decision is made, it’s my job as city manager to honor that and to implement that as effectively as we can to make sure that the goals [the council] was trying to achieve have the best chance of being reached. When we both honor that balance, the council/manager form of government can be a very effective governance model. WHAT ARE SOME OF THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES YOU FORESEE FOR RICHARDSON IN THE FUTURE? A key mission of ours in the future will have to be to continue to sustain our reinvestment in our aging infra- structure. We’ve done many briefings year after year demonstrating that the vast majority of our infrastruc- ture has really gone beyond its useful age. ... So as we begin to look to this next decade, I believe we have to be really mindful of the capital improvement plan that we outlined for the council recently, [which] outlined about a $400 million capital improvement plan over the next five years. I
think being mindful of that capital improvement plan and making sure we keep that at the forefront of our funding priorities will be important. On a completely different front, we also must be mindful of this incred- ibly competitive North Texas job market. Talent is an issue; it’s not just an issue for the city of Richardson; it’s an issue for almost every other city manager I’ve talked with; it’s an issue in the private sector. WHAT HAS BEEN THE BEST PIECE OF ADVICE YOU HAVE RECEIVED OR EXPERIENCE YOU HAVE HAD WITH [FORMER CITY MANAGER] DAN JOHNSON? I had the good fortune of working with [Johnson] for over 25 years ... What I recall most often that [John- son] and I talked about throughout the years was it’s so important to do good work every single day. What we mean by that is you’ve got to be very attentive to your core missions because it’s only when you do your core missions in a really exceptional way that you can really turn your attention to some of the more aspirational things. If we forget about
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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM
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