The City of Kent has 194 full time employees — about 80% of which are in Police, Fire, Streets and Utilities.
With an organization of our size, employee turnover happens, and thanks to the City’s Civil Service Coordinator we keep our lists of candidates for civil service jobs up to date and handy.
Just last week I had paperwork come across my desk announcing the hiring of a new firefighter/paramedic, and the Police Chief mentioned that she’s still looking for a School Crossing Guard for Walls Elementary School and she’s getting ready to advertise for a vacant dispatch position.
The Fire Department has been struggling to keep full staff this summer due to a couple of long term injuries and an unexpected retirement so the new hire is great news for them (and all of us that depend on them in emergencies).
I’m trying to do my part too — I recently hired the City’s first IT Manager (Gary Bishop) and we selected a new Public Service Director who will start in Kent on August 22nd.
The IT Manager position is a long time coming — we’ve needed someone dedicated to managing and planning our IT resources for years — but after 10 years of cutting and freezing positions due to tough times financially, this position had to sit tight while we did our best with part time technical trouble shooters being on-call when we needed them — which was pretty much all of the time.
A City with the level of sophisticated computer systems that we have — from our financial systems, utility plants, and our public safety network — our IT needed full time attention.
Thankfully, with a little more flexibility in our City budget this year, Council unanimously approved the creation of the new IT Manager position.
It turns out that one of our part time tech experts was interested in the position full time, so after we conducted a competitive open search process, his inside knowledge gave him the edge he needed to convince the City’s selection team that he was the top candidate.
Gary had done this same work for years for the City of Cuyahoga Falls so he brings a great technical understanding of what makes City’s technical systems work and how to best optimize them.
The City has some first rate technical systems in place — we invested slowly but wisely over the years — but we need someone to help us integrate those systems and inter-connect them so that we can get everything out of them that they are capable of.
It’s exciting to think about what Gary should help us accomplish in the next couple of years.