New Raleigh city manager reorganizes city hall

ccampbell@newsobserver.comApril 11, 2014 

— After nearly five months on the job, Raleigh City Manager Ruffin Hall is planning a shakeup in the leadership structure at City Hall, adding new assistant city managers and merging departments to help govern a growing city.

Hall released the new management approach Friday and will seek approval from the Raleigh City Council on Tuesday.

“I look for opportunities where we can be more efficient, streamline the organization and clarify responsibilities,” he said.

If the council approves the changes, some employees will get new job titles, but none will lose their jobs. Hall said the new management posts are “budget neutral,” meaning they won’t add to overall salary costs because some vacant positions are being eliminated to fund the new jobs.

Hall will no longer have 14 staffers and department heads who report directly to him. That arrangement was set up by his predecessor, Russell Allen, who was fired last April. Allen was known for a detail-oriented management style that often had him working evenings and weekends.

As longtime assistant city managers Lawrence Wray and Julian Prosser retired, Allen dropped their positions, leaving Dan Howe as the sole remaining assistant.

That’s not Hall’s style. “Right now, I’m receiving too much operational and transaction-related work for me to be able to manage that effectively,” he said, adding that his proposal will reduce the direct reports to eight.

Hall wants to have three assistant city managers again. Before coming to Raleigh in November, Hall held that post in Charlotte, where City Manager Ron Carlee has five.

One assistant manager would oversee basic city services – public works, public utilities and solid waste. Another would handle economic development, including the entire planning department and the convention center. And the third would be called the assistant city manager for community, responsible for fire, police, emergency management, parks and a newly created “Housing and Neighborhoods” department.

Housing and Neighborhoods would merge the separate community development and community services departments with the housing code enforcement division, which Hall says will “leverage limited resources” and improve Raleigh’s work on affordable housing and blighted neighborhoods.

“The purpose is to elevate our work in housing and neighborhoods,” he said.

Housing and Neighborhoods will be led by a new hire, who will take the place of retiring Community Development Director Michele Grant.

That job, along with the two additional assistant city managers, will be open to applicants outside City Hall. The assistant city manager for economic development will replace Mitchell Silver, the current chief planning and development officer who’s leaving for New York later this month. Hall said he’s hoping to get the new structure and employees in place by July 1.

“This model is more similar to best practices as you get to being a larger and more complex organization,” Hall said.

Campbell: 919-829-4802; Twitter: @RaleighReporter

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