City leaders reorganize departments

Published 9:31 am Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Several departments of the City of Elizabethton’s city government have been reorganized, effective July 1, according to Elizabethton City Manager Jerome Kitchens.
Kitchens announced on Monday that Elizabethton Planning and Development Director Jon Hartman will now be in charge of city economic development.
“Jon’s been doing this unofficailly as long as I’ve been here,” Kitchens said. “I think it is important to have someone who can take on the formal part of permits and things.”
“This change just makes it official and lets the public know who they need to contact with any questions they have about economic development in the city,” he added.
In his role, Hartman will work in conjunction with Carter County Tomorrow and other regional boards to facilitate recruitment and retention, Kitchens said. He will also continue his roles in the planning and building departments but will drop library and recreation departments from his direct duties to allow him to spend time in development activities.
Renita Barksdale, Library Director, and Mike Mains, Park and Recreation Director, will report directly to the City Manager.
“I don’t see any disadvantages to the realignment of any of these departments,” Kitchens said. “Both Mike and Renita are very strong individuals. Mike has taken Parks and Rec and has really moved it forward. The range of activities he works on is amazing, and he is reaching all ages. And although Jon has been very helpful to Mike, I know he (Mike) can handle this all on his own.”
The same is true of the library’s new director, Kitchens said.
“Renita has already shown that she is a leader,” he said. “She has worked in a much larger city and she will have help, as she needs it, from her library board. I know she will do fine.”
There will also be changes in the utilities division of Elizabethton City government, Kitchens announced.
Rob Toney, General Manager of the Electric Department, having completed the Certified Power Executive management program, will now report directly to the City Manager.
Johann Coetzee, formerly the Director of Water, Wastewater and Electric Departments, will now become General Manager of Water Resources, the department in charge of fresh water and waste water systems in the City. Coetzee will also oversee the engineering department as they work to develop maps and pressure models of the various distribution and collection systems as well as provide in-house engineering services to Public Works.
“A big reason for these changes is because Rob has finished his management training and is fully able to run the department on his own,” Kitchens said. “There are synergies between those departments department – water and electric – and I think Rob and Johann will be effective working parallel with one another.
“You will remember that in our last budget cycle, we had a lot of talk about water and water rates and we have a lot of problems,” Kitchens added. “Having Johann to be able to work on that full time will be a great advantage.”
Although these changes began July 1, 2015, there will be a period of transition as job functions are reorganized, he said.

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