Fairfield moving to fill open positions while adjusting to new budget

FAIRFIELD ― The city of Fairfield’s staff is asking City Council to fill two non-emergency service positions in 2021.

The positions would fill two openings vacated due to retirements, the communications manager in March and the development manager in June. However, it’s uncertain if those positions would be part of a possible temporary budget to get the city through the first quarter of 2021. A majority of City Council last month expressed a desire to pass a temporary budget to start 2021.

The budget, as suggested, would be an extension of the amended $72.77 million overall budget with only major projects as determined by the city manager added.

Assistant City Manager Dan Wendt and Development Services Director Greg Kathman asked for the council to thaw the hiring freeze put in place at the onset of the novel coronavirus pandemic to fill the vacant communications manager position and replace the development manager position with a neighborhood manager.

The communications manager is the chief public information officer for the city, which Wendt said provides a “multi-departmental response and unified message.” The position is responsible for the Fairfield Flyer newsletter, the city’s annual report, updates to the city website and social media comments and queries.

Since former communications manager Jenny Dexter left in March, other staff, including Wendt, have taken on the responsibilities of the position.

Kathman said he would like to replace the development manager position with a neighborhood manager due to the age of the city.

“The development manager, for a long time, focused on site plan development, site plan review, site plan inspections, flood zoning administration. As we’re getting closer to build out, we have less of those needs, and so we were able to absorb most of that work through existing staff, but what we are seeing an increase are zoning and property maintenance-related issues," he said.

Parker’s responsibilities have been absorbed by existing staff.

Using a decade’s worth of private property and single-family neighborhood inspections, the neighborhood development manager would be able to address many of the council’s goals outlined in the Fairfield Forward comprehensive plan.

“Want to get someone who can really analyze the violations and target certain areas, and go in and try to do longer-term fixes,” said Kathman. "We think there’s a lot of need for that.”

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