A consultant hired to study whether Geneva employs too many or not enough workers praised the city Monday, saying it is getting jobs done with fewer workers than comparable cities.
"Geneva has an excellent level ... when you look at governance, when you look at management, when you look at service delivery," said Karl Nollenberger, vice president of Voorhees Associates LLC.
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Compared to 12 cities population 16,816 to 37,973, Geneva has about three fewer employees. Geneva's 2010 population was 21,495, and it had 146 employees, not including 11 paid-on-call firefighters. The comparable towns had an average of 24.4 paid-on-call firefighters.
The comparison towns were Batavia, St. Charles, Bloomingdale, Glen Ellyn, Hanover Park, Hinsdale, Lisle, Roselle, West Chicago and Woodridge.
He had a few recommendations. Nollenberger suggested the city employ a chief communications officer, to handle internal and external communications, including newsletters, email blasts and social media posts.
He also suggested the fire department fill a vacant battalion chief position. And his report suggested the police department could save money by not having records clerks work overnight shifts. Geneva keeps its police lobby open all day every day.
The city might save money in the long run by using a central-purchasing setup, he said, rather than having the separate departments handle all their own purchasing. He did not specify a dollar amount.
An employee survey was part of the study. Overall, the majority were pleased with their jobs and their supervisors, and believe they make important contributions.
"Satisfied employees provide higher levels of service, and more efficiently," Nollenberger said, explaining why employees' opinions were sought.
Two areas for potential improvement came up: formal recognition of employees for the quality of their work, and the desire for more training. The city eliminated its annual employee awards dinner to save money after the recession struck and sales tax revenue dropped.
The report also suggested that instead of having the mayor and city council appoint department heads, the city administrator should do that. The elected officials' role should be more about setting policy, and the administrator be held responsible for executing policy, including supervising employees, according to the report. However, Geneva residents would have to vote on that change in a referendum.
He also praised the city's planning efforts. The city has a long-range strategic plan, which the council reviews every year in a goal-setting session before the budget is developed. It is also implementing a five-year capital improvements plan.
"Geneva has one of the best, outstanding planning and goal-setting processes that I have seen in a city organization," Nollenberger said.