Recently, as part of his “Unscripted” video series, Tamarac Vice-Mayor Marlon Bolton sat down for a lively and informative conversation with Kathleen Gunn, Tamarac’s Assistant City Manager. The City Manager’s office is responsible for the day-to-day operations of Tamarac, ensuring that all the things the residents, businesses and visitors expect from the city get done.
As Kathleen puts it, “The City Manager is like the CEO, and the mayor and commission are like the board of a private corporation…. Our office does everything we can to ensure that the wishes of the Mayor and Commission are implemented.”
Her office has some discretion as to implementation details of the city’s vision, while they pay close attention to the work of the various city departments, from social services, police/fire, emergency preparedness and more – in short, “anything and everything that residents and businesses will see and care about.”
Kathleen is excited about Tamarac’s strategic plan, Tamarac 2040, and believes that the city is poised for the future. You can find more details about the Tamarac 2040 here: https://www.tamarac.org/141/Strategic-Planning
The strategic plan includes six overarching goals:
- Tamarac is Home
- Tamarac is Safe and People Know It
- Tamarac is Economically Resilient
- Tamarac is Vibrant
- Tamarac is Smart and Connected
- Tamarac is a Dynamic Workplace
The office also regularly surveys community members; currently, public safety is the #1 concern.
“We want to ensure that we have an unparalleled quality of life. We hear from the community and Commission about things that are happening, and our job is to implement them, make sure it’s going well, and if not, take steps to address,” Kathleen continued.
“You are to live in Tamarac for the rest of your life”
Vice-Mayor Bolton remembered a recent conversation with his young son; he told him, “You are to live in Tamarac for the rest of your life… we had a conversation about how we’re planning for 2040; he’ll be 26 when we finish the vision we’re talking about now. It’s not about us; it’s about the future.”
Navigating the Ever-Shifting Landscape
Asked about her role during the COVID-19 pandemic, and how she has navigated through the past several months and how the organization and work has shifted, Kathleen is understandably proud of how the city has navigated, and continues to navigate, the ever-shifting landscape: “Everything has shifted and there’s a lot we still have to do no matter what. In some areas, the means of delivery has shifted. In others, it hasn’t. The city has been open this entire time; we’re a 24/7 operation. We did close City Hall to the public in order to keep the public and our employees safe. Overnight, we had 40% of our workforce telecommuting, which posed unique challenges, but it speaks to our being well-prepared to be a smart city.”
Departments Working Together for Tamarac
For example, in an abundance of caution, every single call EMS goes on is now treated as a potential COVID call; the city secured the additional Personal Protective Equipment needed for first responders.
The city’s Fire Chief is, Kathleen notes, “our Emergency Manager, in essence; he has been on daily calls with county and state leaders to ensure we are in sync with what everyone is doing and doing everything we can to protect our residents….We regularly evaluate the executive orders from the county, state and federal government to ensure our residents and businesses know what’s required as things continue to evolve, and are in the best position to rise to the challenge.”
Recognizing that there are many economic implications for Tamarac’s residents and businesses, the City Manager’s office is continuing to work tirelessly to “get out timely and accurate information, and do whatever we can to support businesses and residents in minimizing the hardships the pandemic has caused.”
As to the federal CARES act and stimulus funds, Kathleen reminded everyone that “The federal government is pumping money into the economy; we’ve gotten some direct allocations but we’re also working to make sure that we are maximizing the amount of aid we get to offset extra costs the city has incurred.” During this budget preparation season, the city is also keeping an eye on legislation to make sure that Tamarac receives any available assistance.
After the Pandemic
Vice-Mayor Bolton noted, “A lot of people are wondering how we will recover; what does Tamarac look like after this pandemic?”
“That’s the million-dollar question,” according to Kathleen. “A lot of this is unfolding; we’re not out of the woods yet…. We still don’t know the full economic fallout, but we have emergency plans and now we have pandemic responses, so we will be ahead of the curve on safety. [This has proven] the importance of investing in technology and the infrastructure that supports it,” adding that we can’t underestimate how impressive it is “that we went to teleworking literally overnight without missing a beat.”
The City Manager’s office is also “keeping an eye out in the larger busines community and how it will impact the landscape in Tamarac, and putting ourselves in the best possible position for the future….We are committed and standing at the ready to take advantage of every possible opportunity that we can.”
Vice-Mayor Bolton reminds everyone in Tamarac that “Even though City Hall is closed to the public, we are still here and working extremely hard for the residents and for the future.”
To see the full “Unscripted” video, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F4xG5z4KyKc&feature=youtu.be