New city manager wants to ‘streamline’ Mill Creek

MILL CREEK — The new city manager is working on technology upgrades that could make Mill Creek a model for local governments.

In an interview Monday after one week on the job, Rebecca Polizzotto said, she wants city labor costs to go toward offering public services instead of “pushing paper.”

She plans Tuesday evening to make a presentation to the City Council on ways technology could be used to streamline Mill Creek operations, bolster economic development and upgrade services.

“I can see some work we need to do,” she said.

Polizzotto enlisted Sandy Reeser, of VC3, a South Carolina-based information technology company, to help Tuesday with ideas for Mill Creek. The two previously came up with a paperless system for city records when Polizzotto was city manager in Conyers, Georgia, near Atlanta. The all-digital system was ahead of its time in the late 1990s.

Polizzotto plans to continue working on technology with Mill Creek staff. She is having them make flow charts of various city operations. That way they can identify the steps in each task and decide which ones could be automated.

“I’m so impressed with their desire to take it up a notch,” Polizzotto said of the city’s 67 employees.

Polizzotto wants Mill Creek to go paperless, with digital records stored online in a cloud system.

By using digital tools and automating certain tasks, the staff could more efficiently handle their work, freeing time to better serve the people of Mill Creek, Polizzotto said. That could make Mill Creek a model for other governments to follow, she said.

Polizzotto also is looking at ways the city could make land-use rules that foster economic development and bring in revenue. She has inherited challenges, such as balancing the city’s budget so it isn’t reliant on money from reserves.

Before she can tackle the budget, Polizzotto will have to hire a new finance director. Landy Manuel, the city’s longtime finance director who was the interim city manager, plans to retire next month.

Polizzotto negotiated a starting salary of $155,000 a year, with raises scheduled for the next two years. She is to receive a $300-per-month car allowance and $10,000 for relocation costs.

She is replacing former City Manager Ken Armstrong, who was forced to resign Jan. 2. The council on Nov. 25 unanimously passed a resolution stating its intent to terminate him from his $144,200-a-year job and passed another measure that put him on paid leave.

Council members have not given a reason for letting Armstrong go. Since Mill Creek was incorporated in 1983, the elected body has forced half of the city managers to resign.

Like his predecessor, Timothy Burns, the city manager who was forced to resign in 2012, Armstrong received three months of termination pay.

Polizzotto negotiated for more money should the council force her to resign, as it did Armstrong, Burns and two city managers before them.

If the City Council passes a resolution to terminate Polizzotto for reasons other than misconduct, fraud, being charged with a crime or unethical behavior on or before June 1, 2018, and she resigns, she is to be paid her salary for a year. If that happens after June 1, 2018, she will be paid her salary for six months.

Polizzotto, who left her position as an assistant state attorney general in Alaska for the job in Mill Creek, said she wouldn’t be a very good lawyer if she hadn’t addressed in her contract the council’s track record of shedding city managers. But, she said, she wouldn’t have taken the job if she thought it was going to be a problem.

Polizzotto also negotiated raises for the next two years. Her pay is to increase to $157,000 on June 1, 2016. She is due for another raise, to $160,000, June 1, 2017.

Polizzotto grew up in Alaska. She has a master’s degree in public administration and a law degree from Georgia State University.

She started her career as a police officer in Conyers and worked her way up to city manager. During her 20-year tenure in Georgia, she served in various positions and made arrangements for equestrian activities for the 1996 Olympic Games.

She moved back to Alaska in 2004 to work for the state. She and her husband, Jeff, have a 10-year-old daughter, Maggie.

Amy Nile: 425-339-3192; Twitter: @AmyNileReports.

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