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City seeks new executive after receipt of grant funding

Thursday, July 1, 2010 by Michael Kanin

This City of Austin is in line for another manager. The city is now on the lookout for a chief service officer, a city executive who would “work under the direction of the mayor’s office to develop and implement a comprehensive plan to help increase volunteerism in Austin,” according to a press release sent out by Mayor Lee Leffingwell’s office.


The position will be funded by a two-year, $200,000 grant that has been given to the city by the Cities of Service coalition. Leffingwell, however, suggested that he expects to continue the position after that money is exhausted.


“While I expect the Chief Service Officer to provide value to the Austin community over the long term, given the serious budget challenges we continue to face, I do not and will not support using taxpayer money to fund the position,” Leffingwell said in the release. “One of the responsibilities of the Chief Service Officer will be to identify additional grant funds to support service initiatives in Austin, and ultimately that may include continued funding for this position, once we have assessed the position’s value.”


According to a memorandum of understanding that came with the grant, the new officer will be responsible for a host of specific local activities, including:


§       an assessment of “existing service levels within the city (so that a benchmark can be established)” that will be followed by the development of “a comprehensive citywide service plan” that must be completed by Dec. 30

§       a “coordinated citywide plan with detailed and specific initiatives to increase the amount and impact of service” that “should target at least two priority need areas” and a “website that benefits both residents seeking volunteer opportunities and organizations seeking to engage residents,” both of which are mandated for March 30 

§       a “progress report” due Sept. 30, 2011


The document also notes that “(t)he grant is for … work under the direction of Mayor Leffingwell’s office,” a fact that would seem to make the officer answerable to that side of City Hall. According to the press release, City Manager Marc Ott “will lead the effort to hire” the official.


The start date for the position is expected to be Sept. 10.    


Cities of Service is an organization founded by 17 U.S. mayors, including New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, whose charity umbrella Bloomberg Philanthropies is a co-funder of the grant. Leffingwell was invited to join the group in December of 2009.


According to the press release, Austin is one of 10 cities that will receive funding through the grant.

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