When I came to work for Peculiar, great turmoil existed. It was a city growing exponentially in population despite some of its own failings. I am most pleased with the professional culture that now is acknowledged and talked about in our organization.
All approaches of the local government are professional in approach, policy, and transparency to the public. As a result, we built a new highway interchange quicker than anyone thought we could. Budget awards are being won when there were none before. We have received more than $12 million in grants in a short amount of time, which is huge for a community of Peculiar's size.
We are launching technology advances that also are unseen in a community of 4,800 population. Peculiar is truly a great turnaround story, and it all started with bringing a professional and open culture to the organization.
Denise Fitzgerald, ICMA-CM
I would say my greatest accomplishment was my participation in the ICMA Professional Fellows Exchange Program in 2016. This program allowed individuals from Southeast Asia to visit Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, and in turn, I was able to visit Vietnam.
Their goal while visiting the county was to look at environmental sustainability projects and how they are managed. We showed them a curbside recycling program and also an e-waste program.
One idea I brought back from my trip was how Hanoi's government circulates water in some of its ponds. Residents use exercise equipment set up around the lake that is connected to a circulation system for the pond. It circulates the water so that the lake does not have stagnant water.
One of the grants I am working on is to install a walking trail along the township's park, with exercise stations along the trail. The purpose of the stations and the walking trail is to encourage a sense of community and also encourage being healthy.
Shirley Hughes, ICMA-CM
Liberty, South Carolina
I like working with councils to assist them in making difficult decisions in order to straighten out local government finances and set the stage for solid footing going forward.
As a general rule, the vast majority of councilmembers do not have a finance background and have no knowledge or experience with governmental accounting. Taking the time to educate them is extremely important.
Providing information will help them make prudent decisions and allow them to more properly provide the services that their constituents expect. The more knowledgeable they are, the better the results of their decisions. Everyone benefits.
When councilmembers can understand budgets and the basics of an audit, they are also in a better position to explain to residents the reasoning behind many of their decisions.