Sunday, June 13, 2021

A different kind of City Manager

Dr. Jim Riviere. Submitted

Dr. Jim Riviere. Submitted

Dr. Jim Riviere is a city manager from a different mold. His education did not specialize in the elements commonly associated with city management; his background is in the world of business. He is calm, laid-back and amiable. So far his abilities have met all the tests. The city is doing well, and looks superb. So superb, in fact, that Marco Island is one of only six cities nominated to be chosen as the Most Beautiful City in America in a contest sponsored by USA TODAY and Rand McNally.

After a year on the job Riviere can point to a lot of success, particularly in a time of economic stress. His major accomplishment? He points proudly to quality of life on Marco Island. He singles out, as an example, the Community Emergency Response Team. The first 25 to take the course were all city employees and all Marco Island residents. They all have been certified. The next 25 were also city employees, but may not all be residents; and the next 25 will be Marco citizens and director level city employees. All of these people in the program are or will be certified in everything ranging from communications (radio) use to triage. Riviere says that, “As a coastal community [Marco Island] is exceptionally well prepared for any event.”

He is also proud of the development and integration of the park system, with passive and active parks having a specific part in the overall plan…and that even includes the dog park. Citing Leigh Plummer as an outstanding example of a park where people can walk, chat or simply sit, and Mackle Park as a place where people can engage in any number of activities, he states that, “The parks are friendlier; they are all ADA compliant.” He carries that thought through to street widening to accommodate persons with walking devices. Veterans’ Park is ideal for everything from the large and highly successful farmers market to the Seafood Festival and the Memorial Day Remembrance. He believes that Mackle Park, as a family park, is “sold” out on the amount of space now available.

These accomplishments have been achieved without any increase in the staff, and well within budget. Excluding water and sewer employees, who perform a specific business function, the city has a staff of 122 employees. Part time employment has been introduced, and the city now has 12 part timers.

The city was under budget through May 31, 2011. At the same time, revenue has increased, and is now 90% of the budget with months to go. Riviere receives a “Flash Report” the first of each month so that he knows the status of each department. He also has a Planning Directive, coming out in October that will enable him to see, months in advance, the projected items tentatively due for future city council meetings.

Riviere enjoys an “extraordinarily good working relationship” with all city council members. He says that, “[he] has received good suggestions from each member relating to city operations”, and that each member has the good welfare of the city at heart.

He is deeply concerned about the economic situation, and is managing the city government structure with constant attention to costs. Does all this prove that it is wrong to retain a city manager without formal training? Not at all. It seems to show that Jim Riviere is uniquely qualified to handle a position under difficult conditions.


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