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City manager will recommend change in health care provider Monday

Editor’s note: This is the last of a three-part series on an interview with David Milliron, the City of Danville’s new city manager. 

New Danville City Manager David Milliron recently issued a request for proposals to evaluate insurance brokers for city employee coverage. Last Monday, presentations were made by six vendors; the current vendor was a semi-finalist, but withdrew from the process, he said.

Milliron said he will recommend to the city commission on Monday that the city go with Strongside Solutions, effective Monday, Feb. 25.

He said the company was chosen due to cost containment while “generating better benefits without raising costs,” and a “demonstrated” ability to be a strategic partner with city staff and employees, meeting the city’s requirements and employee educational needs.

“We, as a city, are paying roughly $15,000-plus per employee per year in benefits, out the door just in health care. Put on top of that pension, life insurance, training reimbursement, health club memberships … I have employees that have more in benefits being paid … than they actually make annually.”

 

Milliron staying busy

To say Danville’s new city manager has been busy is an understatement. Aside from his No. 1 agenda item, to personally meet every employee of the city, he’s been diving head first into management meetings and getting to know how each department ticks. He’s had “late nights of nothing but reading,” from inside his city hall office, where various stacks of reports and files wait for his review.

Just last week, Milliron returned a call while on the road from Frankfort. He had just finished up a Kentucky League of Cities event, where he got the opportunity to meet with Danville’s state representative and senator.

“We were able to come in and reiterate some of the legislative agenda, including the downtown safety (issue) that was echoed in each of the meetings” held previously in Danville with Sen. Rick Girdler and Rep. Daniel Elliott, he said. “We had the opportunity to go over to the House of Representatives gallery for a while, and then we just finished up with a nice networking session.”

 

Major initiatives

Now that Milliron is back in town and back in the saddle at city hall, he commenced to updating some of his top agenda items, preparing for Monday’s city commission meeting, and all the work that lies ahead.

  • Workforce development campaign  — Representatives will be onsite from MopDog Creative & Strategy, a branding firm, to “kick off a workforce development campaign” on Monday, Feb. 24, for the city, as well as to give a brief presentation to city commission that night. Milliron said the goal is to “implement solid talent acquisition and retention strategies, create messaging that will attract qualified applicants and provide a repository of collateral materials that can be … incorporated into our overall recruiting and retention efforts.”

Tuesday, the firm will visit each city department to understand workforce needs, and a lunch and learn will be held with employees so they can understand the project goals and participate in a brainstorming session.

  • Recruiting efforts — Another big initiative is to enhance the city’s recruiting process. On Feb. 27, a videographer will be onsite gathering footage for three recruitment videos being made — one each for the police and fire departments, and 911 Communications. He calls it a “test pilot” to step up recruiting efforts and address staffing concerns in departments that have critical shortages.
  • Compensation study — The long awaited study on pay rates and salaries was finally returned on former City Manager Ron Scott’s last day, Milliron said. Now, he and new HR Director Randy Boyd will meet with the Hanna Resource Group, who conducted the study, to review the report and “get questions answered.” He said it’s important to note that neither he nor Boyd were on with the city when the report was commissioned, “or had any say into its methodology.”

Milliron said as soon as he looked through the study, “immediately, I started poking some holes in it.” He said his comment to the commission and employees is, “I’m very engaged, the new guy on the block. If you don’t give me a chance to do what I do best, which is look at it and evaluate it and make a recommendation … we’re not ever going to get anywhere.”

Milliron said he and Boyd are evaluating starting pay rates for public safety positions and will be nominally raising them to get candidates into the pipeline. A presentation will be given to the commission during the budget process.

 

Asking why

As Milliron does his research, looking into how everything functions, he said staff has already realized one answer that won’t work for him: “‘Because we’ve always done it that way,’ is not a valid answer. I ask employees ‘why,’ often, and I encourage them to ask me, too.”

Milliron said as an International City Manager Association credentialed city manager — one of only seven in the state of Kentucky — he must keep up with his inservice training each year. “I’m constantly working on and mentoring others, but I also have to continue to develop, and so I’m a big advocate of training.”

And he reiterated, “I know it sounds kind of corny, but people really do leave managers and supervisors, not companies. The research is there. I’m working to truly develop the management team and get them to the point where we can elevate them. If we have a recruitment or retention issue, if they don’t feel respected or part of the team, if they don’t understand where they rank in the organization or how they move forward, then we’ve failed them.”