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Cronk wants to change assistant city managers

Monday, July 30, 2018 by Jo Clifton

City Manager Spencer Cronk announced via memo to department directors on Friday that he plans to make major changes in the city manager’s office.

Cronk said he was appointing Chief Financial Officer Elaine Hart, who served as interim city manager for 16 months prior to Cronk’s appointment, as his deputy. Hart will serve in that position until she retires in late 2019, according to the memo.

In addition, Cronk said he would be conducting an open recruitment process for four assistant city managers who will replace the five assistant city managers currently serving. The current occupants of those jobs – Rey Arellano, Robert Goode, Mark Washington, Joe Pantalion and Sara Hensley – will have to compete in an open recruitment process for jobs that may or may not look like their current jobs.

According to the memo, the first phase will be this fall and will include the search for two assistant city managers: one in charge of health and environment as well as culture and lifelong learning, the second charged with handling issues of economic opportunity and affordability.

During the winter of 2018-19, Cronk will be searching for one assistant city manager to deal with safety and another to deal with mobility. In the spring, the memo indicates that the search will begin for Hart’s replacement.

In an obvious attempt to soothe the nerves of his department directors, Cronk wrote, “The change in the structure of the City Manager’s Office does not change the leadership or day-to-day operations for your departments. The current reporting structure will remain the same until a position is filled as outlined above. Any future leadership or operational changes will be communicated with you in a clear and timely manner.”

Cronk also notes in the memo that the proposed budget he will be presenting on Aug. 6 “represents a significant departure from the past. Chief among the reasons for this change is the work that you (department directors) and other city leaders put into the development of Strategic Direction 2023 over the last 16 months. ”

“Given the enterprise scope and operational impact on all the Strategic Outcomes, both utilities – Austin Energy and Austin Water – will be a part of my executive team,” the memo says.

The memo does not state whether Cronk intends to use an outside firm to help with recruitment or if the city will be handling that matter internally.

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Photo by John Flynn.

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