Having been a member of both the American Public Works Association (APWA) and the International City/County Management Association (ICMA) for a couple of decades, and having gone to their respective conferences, serving both organizations on various committees and task forces, and having read all of the articles in the APWA Reporter and Public Management magazine each month, we began to consider the “what-ifs” should members from both organizations come together.
Initially, you may think, “What do engineers and city/county managers have in common?” In many smaller communities, the same individual may wear both hats of chief administrative officer and public works director. There are many current city/county managers who have a background and history in public works. “Having been both a public works director and city manager, I found that I argue with myself some days!” says Jim Proce, currently the assistant city manager of Lewisville, Texas. We are on the same team of serving communities, so why wouldn’t we want to take advantage of any synergies that we can identify and share best practices globally? There are many local government issues
and concerns that we could team up on for the betterment of the organizations and communities we collectively serve.
APWA and ICMA have signed an agreement for a formal collaboration, and we think it’s important to get the word out. What does this mean to you as a member of one or both
organizations? Simply put, this collaboration agreement between ICMA and APWA adds value for local government professionals in both organizations. The sharing of knowledge,
resources, and programs expands services for all members to grow stronger, balanced communities. It’s our hope that this partnership will build better counties, cities, and towns while enhancing future growth and development.
In communities of varying sizes across the globe, the relationship between public works leadership and city/county management must be balanced and in harmony for success.
The committed and dedicated team members of public works departments operate and maintain infrastructure and critical services that enhance quality of life and provide for economic growth and development. A strong public works department enhances the ability to forecast and plan future needs of the community (while occasionally making the CAO look good, too.) City management supports the providing of services, working with public works to manage the greatest financial asset the city has—its infrastructure.
Public works leaders need the support, capacities, and resources from the CAO’s office to provide quality, responsive services. Many communities have emerged from the past few years stronger and more resilient, recognizing new ways to provide services to meet community needs. CARES Act and ARPA funds provided needed financial relief for new programs and projects, and many communities are in the budget cycle of exploring how to sustain some of these without the continued federal funding. Cooperating relationships between all local government leaders is of utmost importance in navigating this challenge, and additional resources provided by both APWA and ICMA are beneficial.
APWA and ICMA members can expand their network and resource base through the new partnering agreement. Both APWA and ICMA are member-driven organizations
and governed by a board of directors comprised of professional peers in the industry. The organizational leadership and staff understand the challenges faced in local
government and are committed to sharing viable options to overcome obstacles.
There is not a one-size-fits-all solution for anything in local government, but the more that we share what we learn with others, the greater our chances of success. The APWA and ICMA partnership expands our opportunities to learn from professionals in our industries.
Both disciplines of public works and city management in the local government profession are interrelated and integrated. The partnerships and relationships between these two are important for quality planning and operations to grow a successful community. Challenges are shared and obstacles can be overcome, solving today’s problems for tomorrow’s
future by continuing collaboration between administration and operations. The partnership with APWA and ICMA extends resources and opportunities to both disciplines in the local
Although we tend to focus on trends occurring in big cities, there are many more smaller communities than larger cities served in the memberships of both APWA and ICMA. Many of these smaller cities and towns have a public works director or CAO that oversees more than one local government function. The APWA and ICMA partnership will extend resources, programs, training, and solutions to these valued members.
Having had the opportunity to work in several capacities as a city manager/public works director, public works director, as a city manager with an amazing public works director, or the many variations we see in our communities, one can see that such a partnership could be tremendously helpful to those in similar positions. Sharing ICMA information with our public works teams has proven to be fruitful, as they reciprocate and share APWA resources in return. The partnership in our communities is yielding great success, so a partnership with an even greater reach could facilitate knowledge sharing and understanding for even more communities and their public servants.
The partnership between APWA and ICMA is a winning solution for all members in local government leadership. As both organizations have a shared vision and mission, the extension of resources, programs, and training to more members in different areas of local government will enhance solution approaches to the many challenges we overcome on a regular basis to build our communities for the future.
When we start digging into the realm of possibilities, it’s true: bigger is better, more is marvelous, now is the time, and working together will certainly yield greater opportunities for our associations, our members, and our communities. Let’s put our heads together and do this! What ideas do you have as a member and public servant? Reach out to us via the
email addresses listed in our bios below.
JIM PROCE, ICMA-CM, is assistant city manager of Lewisville, Texas (email@example.com).
DAVE SLEZICKEY, ICMA-CM, is city manager of The Village, Oklahoma (firstname.lastname@example.org).
New, Reduced Membership Dues
A new, reduced dues rate is available for CAOs/ACAOs, along with additional discounts for those in smaller communities, has been implemented. Learn more and be sure to join or renew today!