City streamlines procurement process to include diverse suppliers

by Archnique Kidd, Supplier Diversity Manager

archnique kiddA year ago, Mayor Stimpson established the City of Mobile’s very first Supplier Diversity Program to specifically help minority, women and disadvantaged business enterprises (DBEs) overcome challenges that make it more difficult to win contracts and work on City of Mobile projects. To implement this new program, he established two new roles within the City: Chief Procurement Officer and the Supplier Diversity Manager. He first selected Don Rose, formerly with the United States Coast Guard and the Bay Area Food Bank, as the Chief Procurement Officer. The Mayor then asked me to join their team as the City’s very first Supplier Diversity Manager.

For the past 14 years, I have worked for the Mobile Area Water and Sewer System overseeing minority and women owned business certification, compliance, training and outreach. Now, it’s my responsibility to oversee certification, compliance, training, and outreach for the City of Mobile. Anchored by the Federal, State and Local Disadvantaged Business Certification Program, the City’s programs are designed to identify DBEs, service-disabled veteran owned (SDV), and woman owned business (WBE) according to discrete certification standards. We work hard to mitigate the effects of past and present social-disadvantage and economic-disadvantage by increasing the opportunity of DBEs in the procurement of goods and services by the City.

My vision is to develop a program that will deliver and capture value through supplier diversity. We are growing the capacity and improving accessibility for Mobile’s business community, especially for socially and economically DBEs to support the work of City government. Since its inception, the Supplier Diversity Office has launched its first online vendor portal, hosted its first Vendor Town hall and will be holding its Second Annual Industry Day on September 29th.

industry day2

For the first time in the history of the City, vendors can now conduct almost all City business online. All current vendors are already registered in our portal, and all new vendors can now self-register at https://mobileselfservice.tylertech.com. At Industry Day next, we will discuss the online vendor registration and vendor self service as well as upcoming contracting opportunities for the 2017 Capital Improvement Plan. This will be an opportunity for potential contractors to meet with City staff, ask questions and learn more about future projects.

I encourage all vendors interested in our supplier diversity program to give me a call at 251-208-7967 or send me an email at Archnique.kidd@cityofmobile.org. If you are a minority, woman or disadvantaged business enterprise, I want to present you every opportunity to work with the City of Mobile.

 

 

City’s Fiscal Stability Grows

by Paul Wesch, Executive Director of Finance 

As this is being written, Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson has submitted his 2017 fiscal year budget to the City Council for its review and adoption.  It may be a fitting time to consider the role of the Finance Department in managing the fiscal affairs of the City.

The Finance Department performs those duties that you might imagine, including the collection of taxes, payment of bills, preparation of financial statements, investment of funds, and budgeting.  We also manage the human resources functions of the City, administer the payroll, and help direct several of the employee pension funds.

However, under Mayor Stimpson’s direction, financial management has taken on   an additional focus.  Financial governance must include strategic efforts to identify and measure areas of inappropriate spending, plan for improvement in those areas, and implement change.

Executive Director of Finance, Paul Wesch
Executive Director of Finance, Paul Wesch

In the years leading up to this administration the City spent all of its cash reserves in the general fund, ending with a $4.3 million negative fund balance as of September 30, 2013.  Long term debt had increased from under $200 million to over $300 million.

Despite excess spending and borrowing during this period, there had been no general raises for employees, police and fire vehicles had not been replaced in anywhere near the level necessary to maintain their useful lives, and the lack of investment in infrastructure, such as roads and sidewalks, had created a $250 million backlog in necessary repairs and improvements.

The Stimpson administration immediately began an overhaul of the City’s finances.  With no tax increases, the City experienced an operating surplus of $19.4 million in 2014 and $23.1 million in 2015.

Employees were provided with raises in each of those years.  For 2017, the budget includes funding for uniformed police and fire raises employee, sufficient to eliminate a long standing disparity in public safety compensation when compared with that of other Alabama cities.

Sound fiscal stewardship has allowed the City to build and maintain a $20 million general fund rainy day reserve, to devote more than $20 million towards the purchase of police cars, fire trucks and garbage trucks, and to begin the replacement of two nearly 60-year-old fire stations.

CityFinances(1)

As important, the City has pared unnecessary expenditures enough to budget the second straight year of a $21 million annual capital improvement plan to begin repairing and replacing the City’s aging infrastructure.

Best of all, the City’s growing fiscal stability has been achieved with absolutely no borrowing.  Indeed, in almost three short years, the City’s once burdensome debt has been reduced by about $45 million.  During the same period, unfunded liabilities for future pension and health care payments have been reduced by more than $100 million.

There is much more work to be done in restoring Mobile’s financial health.  Our citizens have been very generous in their commitment of tax dollars to the delivery of basic City services,  The Finance Department will continue doing what it can to budget and spend those resources wisely.

 

Infrastructure is expensive

by Dianne Irby, Executive Director of Planning and Development

Infrastructure is expensive!  All across America, cities and states are dealing with aging infrastructure.  Not only is the City of Mobile the rainiest city, but it is further compounded by the fact that we have not had dedicated planning and investment to address our growing backlog of broken infrastructure and deferred maintenance within our public facilities.

historical cip expenditures

As Executive Director of Planning & Development, I have the pleasure of working with the Mayor’s administration and with City Council on several key initiatives. My role is to provide leadership and oversight of our City Planning, Engineering, and Real Estate & Asset Management Departments.  Everything from our Comprehensive Planning process “Map for Mobile”, to a Zoning overhaul, to a full city facilities condition assessment are among those key initiatives.  But the most visible one is probably the Capital Improvement Plan – CIP.

To continue to transform and grow our City, Mayor Stimpson has focused on fixing the broken infrastructure throughout the City. We have developed and are executing a plan to allocate more capital improvement and equipment monies than ever before.

cip website6

Fix Mobile is synonymous with building and re-building Mobile. Sound financial management within a municipality involves multi-year planning and budgeting. Without the longer view, decisions focus only on the problems of today.  Real, sustainable growth involves both near term and longer term planning.  The multi-year focus has several benefits:

  • Allows for baseline assessments and identifies current conditions while encouraging discussion of future needs and potential policy changes
  • Given the baseline assessment, initiatives can be developed and pursued, and the fiscal implications can be discussed.   There are always trade-offs with limited funding. Visibility of funding sources and justification for projects is transparent and fully vetted.
  • Enables better on-going management and monitoring of implementation and provides continuous “check-ups” so adjustments can be made and priorities can be revisited
  • These multi-year plans are iterative and designed to be reviewed annually, leaving room for on-going input.

Mobile Botanical Gardens Improvements

For Mobile, in fiscal years 2016, 2017, and 2018, the capital improvements plan (CIP) allocates funding for projects throughout the City/Districts based on $21M dollars per year tied to the extension of the penny sales tax. Everything from sidewalks, parks, road resurfacing, street light replacement, museum and library roofs to stormwater management, drainage and litter improvement projects are underway. This is a rolling 3-year program with a total of $63M being planned in this first 3-year process.

It should be noted, this is the first time the City has embarked on such a robust and well-defined long term planning process for capital improvements. So we chose to use the services of a Program Management firm (Hawksley/MWH) to assist staff in all departments with capital planning and execution, knowing that rapid development of project estimates and oversight of design and construction would require additional resources, cost control, scheduling, and QA/QC. We are bringing in best practices from work in other municipalities to complement our City staff and local resources.

We developed a decision making process to validate and prioritize project selection. Engineering, real estate, parks and recreation, traffic engineering, legal, procurement, architectural/engineering, and community housing and development departments were at the table with the Mayor’s office and City Council members for the deliberations and development of the 2016 and 2017 plans.  The process is on-going and will be undertaken again in the spring of 2017 for the 2018 fiscal year.

Our goal is to develop and grow our ability as a City to sustain a programmatic approach to rebuilding our aging infrastructure. We have appreciated all the feedback from citizens and have information on the website at www.fixmobile.org with an interactive map and highlights of current project activity.  I hope you’ll take the time to review what’s happening throughout the City.