Written by Don Ratzlaff Wednesday, 23 May 2007 06:30
The search for a new city administrator for Hillsboro is now completed.
Larry Paine, 60, currently city manager at Concordia, has accepted the invitation of the Hillsboro City Council to fill the void created by the departure of Steve Garrett in late January.
Paine will begin his new assignment July 23.
The Bakersfield, Calif., native said he launched his career in municipal government in 1973 as a budget analyst. Over the years he has worked in various capacities in Tula Vista, Calif., Yuma, Ariz., Tacoma, Wash., Jerome, Idaho, and Cave Creek, Ariz.
He came to Kansas in 1998 when he accepted an administrative position at Baldwin City. He has been at Concordia, a city of around 6,000, since February 2003.
“I’m excited to have someone of his caliber coming to Hillsboro,” said Mayor Delores Dalke. “The fact that he has been in city government all of his career was important to us, particularly his experience with financing—because of the budget problems we’re having.”
The city’s 2007 budget submission required significant revisions before it could be approved by the state.
For the past six years, Paine has helped teach a class called “Guiding the Municipal Organization” for the Municipal Leadership Academy program sponsored by the League of Kansas Municipalities.
Paine said he was attracted to the opening in Hillsboro for several reasons. He was concerned about the direction the Concordia city commission might have be heading following a recent local election, and had been aware of Hillsboro from various contacts with through LKM and personal experiences.
“Knowing something about the town was an advantage,” he said. “My wife had been at a seminar in Hillsboro when we lived in Baldwin City, so we were able to drive down and take look.”
Paine said he also did committee work with Garrett through various professional organizations.
In addition to having extensive experience with city budgeting, Paine said he’s been closely involved in economic development through the years.
“It’s one of the things the (Hillsboro) mayor and council said: ‘We want you to be very closely aligned with our economic development activity,’” Paine said. “I’ve been doing that.”
Paine described his management style as “laid back.” He sees his primary task as seeing the big picture and then empowering city staff to manage the work at ground level.
“I told the department heads I met with (during the interview process) that they’re going to be doing at least two things they may not have done lately,” he said.
“They’re going to be making budgets and they’re going to be managing their departments.”
Paine said he plans to involve department heads in conversations with the council about setting priorities and strategies.
“That’s part of the process—bringing all the players together,” Paine said. “You can get a level of cooperation a lot quicker and a lot better in some instances.”
Paine and his wife of nearly 36 years, Susan, will move to Hillsboro as his starting date. They have two adult children, Brock, 23, and Brynn, 21.
“Having known him through the League of Kansas Municipalities, I’m just thrilled that we could get somebody like him,” Dalke said. “I think we need somebody to lead us from here.
“Hillsboro is a great city, but we need to move forward. Being able to get somebody who has been in larger communities should be able to help us do that.”