Holter named permanent administrator

Roger Holter, shown here participating in a Marion City Council meeting, was named the permanent replacement for former City Administrator Doug Kjellin, who resigned several weeks ago. Holter has been the acting administrator during the interim.Roger Holter accepted the Marion City Council?s recommendation as the new city administrator, replacing Doug Kjellin. The action came during a special meeting earlier this month.

?It is a terrific position and I am fortunate to have the opportunity,? he said.

For Holter, the city administrator?s position is a natural transition from starting as its economic development director.

?I carry a personal strategic vision for the future,? he said. ?My role in this is to be a servant leader.?

In that capacity, Holter explained he sees his responsibility as educating, informing and giving the staff an opportunity for ownership and creativity.

Along with changing the compensation plan, he said he also wants to see a shift in focus to a set of shared visions and values.

?This is not just for government workers in town, but all the organizations I come in contact with,? he said.

Those include the Chamber of Commerce, economic development, Marion Advancement Campaign, Pride committee and all the boards.

?At the end of the day,? he said, ?all rural towns like ours all want our place to be the greatest place around.?

Over time, Holter said, people tend to focus on the differences rather than similarities. Consequently, he sees this as an opportunity to move a mindset from what is probable to what is possible.

?The big key to it,? he said, ?is that I am so proud we made appointments in 2014 and we had 19 positions, plus a surplus of citizens wanting to serve.?

Holter said he thinks that is encouraging.

?We have new families in town and they are already engaging.?

During his short time as the new administrator, Holter said, he met Randy Frank, the new county emergency management director and, along with him, worked with Sheriff Rob Craft and EMS director Steve Smith on emergency action and management plans.

?All of our conversations were about what is mutual aid, what does it look like and how will we reach across?? he said. ?We participated and worked together coordinating (the plan), but also defined the city?s plan.?

Government vs. private

Prior to accepting the city positions, Holter said he worked many years in the private sector.

In explaining his transition from one to the other, Holter talked about how many workforces came into being in the Industrial Age when everything was tied to manufacturing.

?Our economy has shifted almost totally to a service-based economy, and so working through that transition when I was in private business meant I took an organization from an industrial-based mindset, execution process into a service-based.?

In other words, the organization became reliant on how well it did for its customers.

Government is in that same transition, he said.

?Government work used to be all about ?you have a task, you do the task, you don?t ask any questions and you move ahead,? Holter said.

Today, though, Holter said he believes citizens have an elevated level of expectations, and rightfully should.

?They are paying us with tax dollars just like if we were a private business,? he said. ?They expect service to be rendered in an efficient manner and in a professional, friendly manner.?

For the city staff, Holter said he wants to help them understand they are valued and have the answers and solutions to deliver the services to the citizens.

By creating an environment to assist the staff with training and coaching, and with resources he attained from the private sector, Holter said he will be reaching out to Kansas State University and Wichita State University for their programs.

?They have a lot of students that need internships and they are looking into this as well as (getting) their support,? he said.

Expectations

Holter said he accepted the administrator?s job because he wants to leave it better than what he enjoys now.

?As I look around this community I see a lot of 20-, 30- and 40-year-olds who want this to be the home just like we wanted it,? he said.

In addition, it is a great honor to have the opportunity to bring a slightly different perspective into government, he said.

His experience included Montgomery Ward Corp. as a regional operations director; Sears Roebuck & Co., managing the automotive portion for a four-state area, along with being a store and district manager.

Another example, he said, was working for Lowe?s Home Improvement as its store manager, but assigned to market development.

Challenges

Not unlike most small communities, Marion is faced with continuing cost increases, Holter said.

?One example is electrical rates. Regionally we are all being impacted with transmission charge increases.?

The biggest challenge is walking the line between the amount budgeted by the city and making the commitment to hold the rates at that amount.

?Yet, we have costs going up, and in some cases, it is as much as 29 percent,? Holter explained. ?That is a challenge.?

Another challenge involves capital assets. Most of the equipment is aging, he said.

?The challenge is based on a budget taking every possible step to hold the mill levy,? he said.

Creating a revenue stream is the task as the city continues to re-invest and upgrade the capital items to include trucks, bucket trucks, dump trucks, backhoes and all the things necessary to deliver services.

?All of us are facing issues with natural resources, and in our area particularly, it is the water supply,? he said.

The challenge, tying this back to our legacy for future generations, is that the entire county has to face up to the fact that the water supply is at risk at Marion Reservoir, Holter said.

Questions include what steps should be taken within financial restraints in order to correct the existing conditions and improve them, he said.

?At the same time those challenges are out there, it is also rewarding to see things like Marion County Hardware and the investment they are making in our community and CiboTech Inc. opening soon,? Holter said.

Another plus for the community is a national fast food restaurant is coming to Marion and the vacant lot where Big Scoop was will soon have new ownership with plans for a replacement.

?We all chose this life where it is not commuting through town every day with a thousand automobiles and three lanes around us,? Holter said.

?We chose this life to wave to our neighbors, and we all know how important we are to one another.?

For more information, call 620-382-3703.

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