The City of Salem is seeking an experienced professional to serve as City Manager, the chief executive and administrative officer, responsible for implementing the Council’s vision and directing programs and operations of the city government. The new manager will succeed the current manager who is retiring after thirty-two years of service to the City, including the last almost four years as manager.
Salem, Virginia, located in the Roanoke Valley, between the Allegheny Mountains to the west and Blue Ridge Mountains to the east, and along the Roanoke River, is a vibrant, family-centered city with all the beauty and grandeur that nature can bestow.
For more than two centuries, the City of Salem has been renowned as a superb place to live and raise a family, retaining its small-town community character, while providing its active citizenry with the highest quality schools, facilities, and services in Virginia. Salem residents take pride in their safe, close-knit community, working together to help each other experience an exceptional quality of life.
The total budget for 2023-2024 including all funds is $211 million, of which the general fund budget is $109 million. The General Fund budget includes funding for continuing the downtown streetscaping projects. The phase from Broad Street to Union Street will be completed in a few months and the phase from Market Street to Thompson Memorial will begin next fiscal year. Additionally, the Apperson Drive Roanoke River bridge and the Colorado Street southern railroad bridge are slated for repair and replacement beginning next year. The Water & Sewer Departments have over $10 million in capital funding, most notably including the North Salem Water System Improvement project which will enhance the pressure on the north side of the city, and the development of new wells to enhance our water supplies. The capital improvement plan also includes funding for replacing the Franklin Street water tank.
Salem is one of twelve local governments in Virginia to operate an electric utility. The department was created in 1892, and currently serves approximately 13,300 electric customers. These customers are served by eight substations rated 20,000 kV each and three substations rated 25,000 kVA each. The City purchases power wholesale at 69,000 volts (69 kV), at four different locations. The City is a member of Blue Ridge Power Agency, which assists the city to secure and administer its wholesale power supply arrangements. Enterprise funds are used to account for the Electric, Water, Sewer, Civic Center and Catering/Concessions operations.
Salem maintains 68 miles of primary streets and 284 miles of secondary streets and alleys, representing approximately 352 miles of total roadway.
The City has 461 full-time equivalent positions.
The City Council appoints a City Manager to act as Chief Administrative and Executive Officer. The City Manager serves at the pleasure of the Council, carries out its policies, and directs business procedures. He or she is responsible for the day-to-day operation of the City government and manages and supervises all departments, agencies, and offices of the City except for the City Attorney and Clerk of Council who report directly to the Council. The City Manager is responsible for developing and, upon adoption by the Council, implementing annual operating and capital budgets. He or she recommends policies and priorities for the Council’s consideration and leads the City workforce in delivering services and responding to citizen issues or concerns. He or she serves as the Emergency Management Director and liaison between the City Council, the Constitutional Officers, the Judiciary, regional, state, and local agencies and authorities, and community organizations.
The Council desires the development of a strategic plan to develop goals and objectives for the future of Salem, along with an action plan for its implementation. The Council recently held a work session with a consultant from the Cooper Center at UVA to discuss and prioritize some short-term goals and priorities. The consensus from this meeting established the following immediate priorities:
Several projects were identified. Staff is to update the City Council on each identified area in a work session and provide a general report. The CIP will also be updated to reflect this work.
Staff will develop request for proposals (RFP) during FY24, research potential costs with consultant(s), and report to City Council. The City needs to identify the facility’s target market and determine if the existing venue is viable and serves the needs of that market.
External partners are responsible for moving this project forward. The City desires to be a partner working with other community stakeholders on this initiative.
Land Use Planning
The current comprehensive plan was approved by Council in 2012. It is important for the City to begin the plan review process to develop an up-to-date plan. Several land use related issues were identified in the work session that need to be addressed during this process.
Evaluate if it is possible to relocate all departments in one location and provide a recommendation to Council. Colocation provides the opportunity to free up existing government properties for redevelopment. Further, the existing City Hall has not been renovated recently. The future location of the parks and recreation department may be dependent on a potential new recreation/senior center. Staff previously completed the informal planning process for space needs and is working on options.
Mowles Spring Park
300-acre city-owned property, a portion of which is the site of a former landfill. Need to identify uses permitted under current zoning. Review previous concepts and identify if the proposed use is in alignment with economic development strategies.
Economic development is of vital importance to the city. Since the passage of the Downtown Plan, the investment in the downtown area has been substantial and is expected to continue to improve the economic vitality of the city center. However, with Salem corporate boundary fixed by state law and having about 20% of its properties held by non-taxable entities, it is important for the City to continue to develop the relationships with existing business owners and explore other opportunities to expand its economic base.
Salem places a high value on quality of life through its commitment to recreational activities in the community and providing exceptional venues for them. If this is to be a continued focus, and as these structures age, an analysis of their useful life and contribution to the city needs to be completed.
The City recently completed a salary study with Council’s directive for the City to “lead the market.” A $4.7M investment in implementing the results is included in the current year’s budget. An important goal is to address the City’s difficulty in attracting and retaining a qualified workforce necessary to provide the critical services. Also, as with most communities, there will be retirements within the departments in the next few years; therefore, succession planning is important to help prevent, to the greatest extent possible, a void from the loss of the knowledge held by those employees. It is also an opportunity to bring in new employees to provide fresh ideas for providing city services.
The City Council is seeking candidates who are strong leaders in City/County Management with a proven record of providing effective leadership in a complex organization, preferably in a city, county, municipal or other level of government of similar size as Salem. Ideal candidates will be able to drive innovation and move agendas forward in a multi-stakeholder environment. The successful candidate will demonstrate excellent communication skills and significant career success in building collaborative, effective relationships across divisions. Additional experience in strategic planning, budgeting and project management, and complex problem solving, with the ability to work effectively in a wide variety of governmental disciplines is necessary, along with a knowledge of local government planning and land use practices.