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  Welcome  to  Voices  in  Local  Government,  an  ICMA  podcast.  My  name  is  Joe  Superville,  and  today  we're  trying  out  a  new  format.  Instead  of  a  deep  dive  on  one  topic,  our  guests  will  offer  ideas  and  advice  on  real -world  local  government  dilemmas  about  careers,
 dynamics  with  coworkers,  residents,  even  politicians,  the  kind  of  people  problems  that  can't  always  be  fixed  by  technical  knowledge.  And  situations  and  solutions  are  unique,  so  we're  not  trying  to  solve  your  exact  problem  necessarily,
 but  we're  trying  to  get  the  audience  to  think  about  what  options  they  have  or  what  might  be  the  next  best  step  for  them  to  figure  out  their  unique  case.  You  can  also  play  long  at  home  by  kind  of  thinking  about  how  you'd  answer  these  if  a  colleague  or  friend  asked  you  for  the  same  type  of  professional  advice.
 And  if  you've  got  a  great  angle  or  idea  that  we  didn't  cover,  email  us  at  podcast @icma .org  and  we  may  share  it  next  time.  Also  send  us  your  questions,  all  messages  will  stay  anonymous.
 So,  without  further  ado,  Iris  Lee,  Public  Works  Director  of  Seal  Beach,  California  and  Shane  Silsby,  CEO  and  founder  of  Silsby  Strategic  Advisors  after  many  years  of  local  government  and  public  works  and  transportation.
 Iris,  Shane,  thanks  for  joining.  - Well,  thanks  for  having  us,  Joe.  - Thanks,  Joe.  - All  right,  let's  get  right  into  it.  First  question,  this  is  on  professional  development  and  we'll  get  your  take  as  maybe  the  user  of  those  funds  sometimes  or  managing  people  who  have  the  option  to  use  that  through  their  employer.
 So  the  question,  what  is  your  advice  to  encourage,  nudge  or  borderline  force  employees  to  use  and  make  the  most  of  their  available  training  programs  and  professional  development  funding?
 And  then  kind  of  part  two  of  that  question,  how  can  local  government  leaders  effectively  implement  workforce  development  programs  to  enhance  skills,  knowledge  and  overall  professional  growth  of  their  employees  in  today's  landscape  of  generational  transitions.
 So  kind  of  two -part  questions,  but  ultimately  getting  at  how  do  we  encourage  and  help  our  employees  to  grow  up  and  develop  in  the  workplace.  Jane,  you  want  to  kick  us  off?
 I  can.  And  I'm  happy  to  be  here  with  Iris.  She  does  a  great  job  in  all  efforts  and  everything  she  works  on.  And  Thanks,  Joe  for  your  efforts  at  ICMA.  This  is  a  great  part.  This  is  actually  workforce  development  right  here  The  things  that  we're  doing  first  of  all  how  to  get  people  to  use  their  their  budget  their  workforce  development  professional  development  funds  Well,
 if  they've  tried  to  hire  anybody  in  the  last  three  years  or  so,  they've  noticed  that  very  difficult  to  get  a  fully  Filled  workforce  driving  down  those  vacancies.
 So  you  might  not  have  Great  options  externally  which  really  which  really  forces  people  to  think  internally  what  staff  do  they  have,  how  can  they  develop  their  people.  That's  really  the  main  thing  is  you're  developing  folks  either  in  your  community  to  try  to  come  in  and  fulfill  these  positions  or  you're  developing  your  own  workforce  to  try  to  move  up.
 And  one  of  the  things  I  like  to  remind  people  of  and  not  just  my  opinion  but  the  differential  between  training  and  workforce  development  or  development.  Training  is  really  trying  to  get  people  to  the  to  achieve  their  maximum  potential  in  the  job  they're  in  right  now,
 right?  Training  them  to  do  the  best  job  they  can.  And  development  is  training  them  for  a  new  job  or  except  next  to  level  of  the  job  in  their  career  path.  So  differentiating  those  things  I  think  can  be  helpful  to  people  and  how  they  spend  their  their  money.
 The  other  thing  that  I  really  recommend  people  look  at  is  the  generational  diversity  of  their  organization  as  well  as  what's  happening  in  the,  across  the  country.  So  right  now,
 I  think  for  the  first  time,  ever  we  have  five  generations  in  the  workforce.  Millennial  is  now  taking  the  top  spot.  And  so  when  you  look  at  that,  and  I  think  the  other  stat  I  heard  was  the  most  people  working  over  80  than  any  other  time  in  recorded  history  in  the  workforce.
 So  when  you  think  about  the  how,  how  do  you  provide  development  programs  that  each  of  those  different  generations  will  be  able  to  respond  to  and  get  that  benefit  of,
 that's  a  complication  that  people  really  need  to  consider.  And  then  the  last  thing,  I'll  turn  it  over  to  Iris,  is  I  always  recommend  moving  the  target  and  moving  the  place.  And  what  does  that  mean?  Well,  if  I'm  giving  one  presentation  on  a  development  topic,
 I  shouldn't  maybe  give  the  next  one.  Iris  gives  that  one,  and  maybe  Joe,  we  go  to  you  for  the  third  one.  Moving  the  target  to  keep  interest  and  changing  the  tone,  the  type  of  people  that  are  given  the  training  just  to  keep  people  interested  and  then  moving  the  place,
 right?  Sometimes  getting  off -site  helps  people  to  focus  a  little  bit  more.  Sometimes  going  to  an  educational  and  university  setting.  So  those  are  a  couple  of  things  to  consider  on  that  topic.
 I'm  happy  to  hear  what  Iris  has  to  say.  - Well,  thank  you,  Shane.  And  again,  really,  really  happy  to  be  here  and  just  kind  of  share  a  couple  thoughts  with  everybody  and  can't  say  that  whatever  I  say  today,  whatever  I  share  today,
 more  of  a  personal  opinion  and  it  may  or  may  not  work  for  everybody  because  there's  no  one  size  fits  all  when  it  comes  to  professional  development  for  our  teams.  I  wanted  to  hit  on  that  generational  diversity  thing.
 We  have  a  workforce  that  covers  a  big  age  group  here  and  everybody's  thought  This  is  a  bit  different  as  well.  So  it  sounds  a  little  cliche,  but  just  trying  to  find  that  what  makes  them  tick  is  very  important.
 I  feel  like  and  me  being  over  generalizing  here  now,  but  I  feel  like  our  younger  generation  wants  to  strive  and  they  have  like  a  big  driving  force  and  wanting  to  be  that  leader  and  wanting  to  find  that  path  on  how  they  could  excel.
 So  what  I  like  to  do  is  actually  put  them  in  that  saddle  and  be  that  leader,  whether  it's  cross -training,  mentoring,  be  a  boss  for  a  day  or  a  week  if  they  want  to,  and  just  kind  of  like  see,
 like,  you  know,  let  them  have  that  taste  of  what  it  is.  And  so  we  know  how  to  hone  in  on  that  professional  development.  Have  them,  like,  give  it  a  shot  and  see,  like,  you  know,  is  this  what  they  envisioned  and  kind  of  build  on  top  of  it  afterwards.
 So  I,  that's  kind  of  like  one  of  the  opportunities  that  I  see  in  bringing  my  team  up.  In  addition  to  that,  like  Shane  talked  about,  it's  like,
 it  has  to  be  like  sometimes  a  different  setting  and  to  find  that  what  ticks  for  them  also.  So  I'm  finding  that  sometimes  what  a  person  signs  up  for  may  not  be  what  they  want  to  do  when  they  find  out  more  about  it.
 And  just  using  a  couple  of  my  staff  as  like  examples  also,  they  first  came  in,  signed  up  for  a  job  thinking  that  this  is  kind  of  what  they  want  to  do.  They  want  to  move  forward.  And  but  I  say  like  maybe  half  a  year  or  a  year  later,
 they  kind  of  like,  you  know,  see  other  things  that  happens  in  public  works  in  particular,  because  we  are  just  so  broad  in  different  facets,  that  they  actually  said,  well,  I  kind  of  want  to  try  that  instead.
 So  why  not  move  them  over,  transfer  them  over.  And  we  found  that  this  person  actually  excelled  quite  a  bit  more.  So  kind  of  like  when  I  want  to  say  like  when  I  first  went  to  college,
 and  that  was  many,  many  years  ago,  I  went  in  there  as  like  an  undecided  undeclared  person.  But  who  would  have  thought  that  I  was  going  to  pick  engineering  at  the  end  of  the  day.
 But  the  fact  that  I  got  a  chance  to  explore,  really  honed  in  and  allowed  me  to  find  what  I  really  wanted  to  do.  So  find  that  staff  is  the  same  thing,  giving  them  that  chance  to  explore  and  see  what  there  is  out  there  too.
 - Yeah,  let  me  ask  you  this,  that  sounds  good  in  the  best  case  scenario,  but  what  about  the  manager  who's  thinking,  I  would  love  to  do  that,  especially  for  my  top  performers,  but  I  cannot  give  up  what  they're  currently  doing.
 I  can't  like  have  that  gap  where  that  vacuum  create,  they  shift  over  to  this,  that's  good  for  their  development.  Maybe  they'll  be  great  at  that.  But  now  I've  got  this  other  gap.  And  yeah,  we  could  maybe  then  fill  that  or  hire  for  that,
 but  it's  too  urgent,  it's  too  immediate.  Like  I  can't  let  it  go.  How  do  you,  how  do  you  solve  that?  - There  again,  no  one  size  fits  all.  And  just  like  Shane  said  also,
 there  is  a  lot  of  vacancy.  Filling  up  those  workforce,  all  those  vacancy  spots  is  hard  and  trying  to  find  talent.  And  ever  since  I  came  on  board,  there  hasn't  been  a  time  that  we  had  all  our  spots  filled.
 So  absolutely,  Joan,  to  your  point,  that,  yeah,  how  do  we  fill  that  spot?  So  I  think  that  just  moving  one  person  around  doesn't  mean  that  other  people  don't  want  to  try  out  different  cross -training  opportunities  as  well.
 It  will  be  a  strain.  I'm  not  going  to  say  that  it's  always  perfect,  but  that  kind  of  plays  into  the  timing,  the  opportunity,  finding  ups  and  downs  and  low  spots.
 Some  people  do  want  to  give  more  and  want  to  work  more  to  just  find  that  opportunity  to  be  given  a  chance.  So  you  never  know  until  you  ask  them  when  you  want  to  try  and  do  you  want  to  go  that  extra  mile.
 Yeah,  and  is  it  a  case  where  the  maybe  you're  solving  one  problem  creating  another  but  if  you're  keeping  your  High -level  employee  engaged  and  excited  about  the  the  work.  That's  maybe  priority  one  and  then  we'll  figure  out  this  other  Vacuum  later.
 Is  that  fair  because  there's  at  some  point.  There's  an  equation  there  where  you  got  to  figure  out  make  a  decision  It  is  fair  and  it's  very  dynamic.  You  can't  over  plan  sometimes.  You  just  have  to  go  with  the  flow  I  I  would  just  say,
 Joe,  real  quick,  another  piece  of  that,  and  I  think  what  Iris  is  talking  about  is  really  great,  is  if  you  start  to  move  people,  you  start  to  see  what  your  bench  looks  like  below  those  folks,  right?
 So  okay,  we  tried  this,  now  we  see  we've  got  a  pretty  big  hole  to  your  point,  Joe,  it  might  be  difficult  and  tough  to  move  that  person,  but  then  you  start  to  see  what  your  bench  looks  like.  So,  so  you  can  start  to  address  that  when  the  time  comes  where  you  actually  might  want  to  move  that  And  so  other  things  pop  up.
 Yeah.  And  you,  you  mentioned  training  versus  development,  which  was  interesting.  The  training  is  obviously  like  you  got  to  be,  your  staff  has  to  be  proficient  at  what  you  need  them  to  get  done.  But  the  development  is  a  longer,
 longer  term  thing.  Also,  good  time  to  mention  Shane  recently  released  a  book,  Managing  for  Meteors,  Preparing  Local  Government  Leaders  Before  the  Impact,  which,  especially  with  the  cool  cover,
 which  you  can  see  when  I'll,  the  link  will  be  on  wherever  you're  listening  to  the  podcast,  um,  available  on  Amazon,  uh,  regular  and  also  just  for  $2  digital  copy.  So,  uh,
 good  deal  there.  But  I  think  you  tell  us  shame,  but  I  think  what  that  book  is  getting  at,  I  haven't  had  a  chance  to  get  a  copy  of  reading  yet,  but  preparing  whatever  the  title  is,  uh,  CAO,
 assistant  CAO,  department  head,  or  even  just  the  next  mid -level  manager  with  a  small  team.  Um,  How  do  you  prepare  them  for  those  metaphorical  meteors  that  are  coming,
 that  the  problems  that  are  gonna  hit?  How  do  you  do  that?  How  do  you  develop  them?  - Yeah,  that's  a  great  question,  Joe.  Thanks  for  the  shout  out.  You  could  also  get  the  book  on  Audible  now  too,  or  as  an  Audible  version.  So  if  anybody's  commuting,
 go  ahead  and  check  it  out.  As  I  was  working  with  people  across  the  country,  that's  where  the  idea  came  from  to  try  to  put  this  all  together  to  kind  of  a  workforce  development  tool.  And  the  premise  is  the  metaphoric  meteors  can  be  anything.
 And  so  what  can  you  do  today  to  prepare  your  organization?  And  so  the  thought  processes  here  is  working  with  your  leaders,  city  managers,  assistant  city  managers,  whatever  the  case  might  be  your  department  heads.  What  can  you  do  to  be  the  most  efficient  and  effective  department  or  city  as  you  can  be  now?
 So  when  that  thing  ultimately  ultimately  happens,  you'll  be  more  able  to  take  that  on  or  deal  with  that  issue,  right?  And  what  it  always  comes  down  to  is  once  that  incident  happens  or  that  major  disruption  happens,
 it's  too  late  to  prepare  at  that  point,  right?  So  this  is  about  getting  prepared.  And  it's  not  like  emergency  management  training,  where  you  can  take  courses  to  deal  with  some  specific  emergencies.
 It's  more  about  organizational  development  elements  where  you  can  then,  you  know,  work  on  how  to  get  prepared  in  advance.  So  that's  the  high  level.  Okay.  And  you  have  the  processes  in  place  too,
 so  you're  not  scrambling  or  reacting  all  the  time.  You're  kind  of  ready  to  face  the  challenge.  Exactly.  So  one  more  question  before  we  move  to  the  second  main  question  on  this  one,
 and  I  ask  it  on  all  of  our  kind  of  normal  interview  podcasts,  whether  whatever  program  or  projects  the  guest  is  talking  about,  it  always  sounds  great,  but  I  have  to  ask  them,  well,
 how  is  this  getting  paid  for?  'Cause  that's  the  tricky  part,  the  budget.  So  even  going  back  to  Iris's  example,  or  if  you're  developing  these  people,  and  hey,  I  actually  wanna  try  this,  and  it's  working  out  now,
 and  now  I'm  gonna  be  doing  this,  whether  it's  official  or  unofficial,  the  budget  is  still  a  thing,  where  it's  filling  that  gap  parallel  move,  or  lateral,  up  or  however  it  works.
 You  got  to  fill  where  that  person  may  be  just  left,  but  then  you're  also  gonna  have  the,  hey,  but  I'm  doing  this  now  at  this  level,  so  that  awkward,  I  need  a  raise,  I  need  a  title  bump.
 That's  not  always  so  easy,  especially  to  keep  those  high -performing  employees.  So  how  do  you  go  about  that?  How  does  that  work  with  HR,  with  finance?  How  does  a  boss  advocate  for  their  team?
 Sure.  It  will  need  a  lot  of  people's  buyoffs.  It  will  need  councils  buyoff  because  if  we're  going  to  be  restructuring  or  reorganizing,  they  need  to  know  about  it.
 They  need  to  approve  the  budget,  the  personnel  account,  your  city  manager  needs  to  buyoff  on  it.  For  sure,  from  the  budget  standpoint,  labor  groups,  that's  also  a  big  thing,
 whether  it's  seen  as  working  at  a  class  or  is  it  actually  workforce  development?  So  all  that  needs  to  be  accounted  for  and  how  do  we  fund  it?
 So  it  is  sometimes  a  shifting  in  positions.  There  may  be  salary  savings  by  other  vacancies  that  have  not  been  filled.  There  may  be  times  that  we  are  actually  cross -trading  and  providing  more  services  through  in -house  staff  where  we  could  reduce,
 like  say,  a  contract  professional  need.  And  so  there's  a  little  bit  of  shifting  and  a  lot  of  creativity  in  there  as  well.  - Okay,  and  same  thing,  if  that  work  needs  to  get  done,
 the  output  is  maybe  what  can  justify  it,  right?  Like  this  has  to  get  done  at  a  high  level  and  it's  either  cost -neutral  or  to  our  benefit.  So  is  that  part  of  the  pitch  for  lack  of  better  work?
 Well,  quality  of  life  is  definitely  a  big  thing.  Providing  great  customer  service  to  our  constituents  is  always  key.  And  our  counsel  sees  that  as  a  very  important  and  getting  the  things  done  is  something  that  we  need  to  do.
 And  they  are  very  supportive  of  it.  Jane,  anything  to  add  on  that?  How  do  you  kind  of  address  the  moving  parts  to  actually  make  all  that  stuff  work  when  people  are  are  shifting  around?
 Yeah  a  couple  things  in  all  good  comments.  One  is  you  have  the  actual  cost  of  trying  to  make  a  shift  and  then  you  have  the  maybe  reduced  productivity  in  a  near -term  window  and  then  eventually  it'll  be  better  long -term.
 But  I  really  like  Iris's  idea  of  taking  a  look  at  your  vacancies  and  usually  your  budget  or  finance  directors  will  budget  some  level  of  vacancy  for  your  departments  at  10 %  or  whatever.  But  I  think  what  we're  probably  seeing  right  now  when  unemployment's  at  somewhere,
 the  research  idea  was  a  30  year  low.  I  heard  somebody  else  the  other  day  say  a  50  year  low  in  unemployment,  hard  to  get  people.  And  so  your  vacancy  rate  might  actually  be  more  than  your  budget  amount.  And  that  Delta  used  in  that  fiscal  year  can  be  a  great  source  for  training  programs.
 The  other  thing  I  would  just  offer  is  with  bipartisan  infrastructure  law,  the  federal  funding  coming  From  DC,  they  have  four  kind  of  high  level  priorities  and  one  of  those  is  workforce  development.
 So  for  you  to  score  higher  and  get  more  funds  from  federal  dollars,  sometimes  you  have  to  demonstrate  you  have  a  workforce  development  program,  a  partnership  with  the  unions  as  Iris  said.  And  so  it  might  be  external  funds,
 right?  You're  doing  things  internally  to  leverage  hitting  some  checkmarks  to  get  more  external  funds.  All  right,  and  just  to  wrap  up  the  professional  development  topic,
 I  have  to  mention  it's  not  always  necessarily  some  big  thing  or  hey,  we're  paying  a  huge  amount  of  money  for  someone  to  go  get  another  grad  degree  or  a  big  certificate  program.  ICMA  offers  the  learning  lab .icma .org  for  everything  from  individual  on -demand  webinars  to  the  longer  courses  where  you  get  a  certification  at  the  end.
 It's  also  ICMA  annual  conference  this  fall  in  Pittsburgh,  but  it's  not  just  ICMA,  there's  lots  of  other  great  sources  out  there,  the  state  associations,  department  specific  groups  like  GFOA  for  finance  and  APWA  for  public  work.
 So  lots  of  options  out  there.  And  I  think  that  kind  of  be  the  last  piece,  even  just  the  manager  and  the  employee  talking  about  what  do  you  want  to  do?  How  can  you  get  there?  What  are  the  skills  you  might  need  to  boost  up  a  little  bit?
 There  are  kind  of  smaller  bites  at  that  apple  that  both  sides  can  kind  of  talk  about  and  agree  upon  to  go  after  to  get  better.  All  right,  question  two.  Complaints  about  permitting  are  always  one  of  the  biggest  issues  for  support,
 for  our  support  and  communications  team.  This  remains  a  huge  rift  between  residents  and  local  governments.  For  the  listeners,  they're  both  kind  of  already  laughing  because  you  might  be  too,  because  we  all  know  that's  an  ongoing  thing.
 So  the  question  wraps  up  with  what  can  local  government  do  better,  which  is  a  loaded  question.  We're  not  going  to  solve  that  whole  problem  today.  But  in  general,  whether  it's  a  public  works  kind  of  perspective  on  it  or  not,
 what  would  you,  how  would  you  answer  that  just  from  a  resident?  And  let's  say  reasonable,  not  necessarily  the  one  yelling  at  the  town  council  meeting,  but  just  the  kind  of  reasonable,
 Hey,  why  is  this  so  difficult?  I'm  just  trying  to  build  X,  Y,  and  Z.  It's  taken  too  long.  It  costs  too  much.  What  is  going  on?  Iris,  why  don't  you  start  this  one?  Absolutely.
 And  it's  a  great  question,  Joe.  And  something  that  I  don't--  we  could  constantly  work  towards  evolving  and  refining.  And  I'm  not  sure  that  we're  going  to  get  to  100 %  satisfaction,
 but  we're  going  to  get  close.  So  I  would  say  that  it's  what  I'm  encountering  here  in  Seal  Beach  is  more  so  setting  expectations  and  making  sure  that  there's  clear  directions  and  I  feel  like  the  back  and  forth  sometimes  has  a  lot  to  do  with  people  not  understanding  where  different  sides  are  coming  from.
 Even  like  down  to  filing  certain  paperwork  or  certain  things  need  to  be  turned  in,  the  eyes  needed  to  be  dotted  a  certain  way  and  the  T's  need  to  be  crossed.  Those  expectations  are  different  across  the  board  and  a  lot  of  different  agencies.
 So  we're  one  style,  but  the  sitting  next  door  may  be  asking  for  something  different.  So  that  expectation  and  clarification  and  guidelines  is  huge  and  so  if  there's  a  way,
 and  I  know  that  resources  are  always  very  limited,  but  to  sit  down  and  actually  go  through  these  processes  upfront,  it  may  eliminate  a  lot  of  these  vagueness  or  confusions  down  the  road.
 Of  course,  this  is  just  being  idealistic  because  at  first  we  talked  about  like,  oh,  how  do  we  fund  everything?  So  that's  one  of  them,  but  having  these  outlined  up  front  and  knowing  that  we're  here  to  just  kind  of  cross  the  finish  line  and  we  don't  gain  anything  by  delaying  your  permit,
 just  putting  that  across  the  board  just  to  let  them  know  that  we're  working  together  to  get  them  across  the  finish  line.  I  know  that  that  sounds  a  little  cliche,  but  that's  kind  of  like  the  dialogue  that  I  get  from  our  permittees  or  applicants.
 - Shane?  - Yeah,  difficult  one,  right?  You  have  at  least  three  constituent  bases,  right?  You  have  the  person  trying  to  get  the  permit  and  they  want  it  as  fast  as  they  can  get  it  and  as  cheap  as  they  can  get  it.
 you  have  the  people  that  live  around  whatever's  getting  permitted  and  they  might  not  want  it  getting  permitted  at  all  and  they  might  want  quality  or  aesthetics  to  be  the  number  one  thing.  And  then  you  have  your  elected  body  which  wants,
 you  know,  obviously  fair  treatment,  they  want  speed,  but  quality  and  a  reasonable  cost.  So  depending  on  your  community,  one  of  those  might  be  higher  than  the  other.  So  what  I  try  to  help  people  understand  a  little  bit  is  What's  important  to  your  community  the  most?
 Is  it  speed  of  the  process?  Is  it  the  quality  aesthetics  or  is  it  the  cost,  right?  And  trying  to  adjust  your  services  accordingly,  right?  So  24 /7  online,
 that's,  if  your  agency  doesn't  have  that  now,  you're  gonna  look  like  you  don't  really  have  a  customer  service  focus  necessary.  It  doesn't  mean  you  don't,  but  just  the  perception  is  that.  So  you  think  about  pre -pandemic,
 when  I  was  at  the  County  of  Orange,  we  implemented  this  24 /7  online  permitting  system.  And  then  when  the  pandemic  hit,  that  was  one  of  the  only  departments  which  was  still  up  and  running,  while  everything  else  was  shut  down  because  it  was  virtual  24 /7.
 And  that's  an  expectation  now,  right,  that  people  have  in  general.  But  the  other  things  I  would  say  is  trying  to  get  creative,  Joe.  So  the  private  sector  is  doing  a  lot  more  to  kind  of  integrate  with  the  public  permitting  process  to  help  with  implementing  the  standards  of  a  city  there  are  some  other  things  you  can  do  like  permit  by  inspection  or  permit  by  appointment  where  instead  of  these  are  for  smaller  like
 somebody's  doing  a  remodel  on  their  house  changing  their  windows  you  can  actually  permit  it  in  the  field  with  your  inspector  if  they're  training  back  to  the  workforce  development  discussion  if  they're  developed  in  a  way  where  they  can  have  a  general  skill  set  they  could  actually  per  minute  right  on  site  instead  of  the  back  and  forth  of  the  submittals  and  all  of  those  things.
 Obviously,  you  get  more  complicated  structures,  you  know,  bigger  helmets,  you've  got  to  have  a  submittal  of  that.  But  a  couple  of  things  you  can  do  to  get  a  little  bit  creative  there.  And  then  the  final  one  is  kind  of  looking  at  standardized  in  the  process.
 And  Iris  talked  about  that  a  little  bit,  making  sure  that  things  look  the  same  to  your  customers  as  they  interface  with  your  systems  and  your  staff.  And  that  can  even  come  down  to  like  standard  plans.
 In  California,  we  have  a  big  push  for  accessible  dwelling  units.  And  so  if  there  would  be  a  way,  for  example,  to  create  standard  plans  for  that,  somebody  comes  in  with  a  standard  plan,  they  can  speed  that  up  to  deal  with  some  of  the  housing  issues  we  have  in  California.
 So  a  couple  of  things  to  consider  there,  Joe.  - Okay,  I  would  say  I'm  no  expert  in  this  at  all,  but  from  a  resident's  perspective,  especially  if  there  are  legitimate  safety  regulations  involved  that  slow  the  process  or  raise  the  price  or  any  of  that,
 I  would  say  just,  can  you  explain  it  to  me  in  a  short  paragraph  and  playing  language,  not  the  lawyer  talk,  not  the  fine  print.  And  I  suppose  that's  where  maybe  like  a  public  works  department  needs  to  work  with  the  communications  or  the  public  information  office,
 right?  Because  they'll  probably  come  back  and  say  it  is  that  that  information  is  there.  But  again,  from  the  resident  perspective,  I'm  busy.  I'm  trying  to  rebuild  the  house,  or  I'm  trying  to  put  the  pool  in,  or  whatever  it  is.
 Those  two  things,  I  cannot  afford.  That's  hypothetical.  But  if  I'm  doing  those  things,  I'm  focused  on  that.  And  I'm  overwhelmed,  and  I'm  busy,  and  I'm  stressed  out.  Maybe  it's  laziness,  but  I'd  say  as  the  resident,  I'm  kind  of  expecting  the  local  government  to  be  proactive  in  responding  to  my  original  submission,
 or  just  my  inquiry,  or  whatever  it  So  that,  again,  easier  said  than  done,  there's  a  lot  of  moving  parts,  but  I  think  Iris  hit  it  early,  just  setting  the  expectations  early  on  and  trying  to  get  everyone  on  the  same  page  so  they're  not  assuming  it's  just  gonna  be  easy  and  smooth,
 but  maybe  they're  also  not  assuming,  oh  my  God,  it's  gonna  be  a  nightmare.  Hopefully  somewhere  in  the  middle  where  it  can  just  be  effective.  - What's  interesting,  Joe,  also  my  time  at  Phoenix,  it  was  all  about  speed,
 right?  One  of  the  fastest  growing  communities  in  the  country.  And  so  it  was,  and  cost  really  wasn't  an  issue.  People  wanted  to  be  reasonable,  but  we  even  had  an  expedited  process  where  you  could  pay  a  little  bit  and  move  up  a  little  bit.
 But  in  that  case,  you  could  only  control  the  speed  so  much,  right?  There's  only  so  many  people  you  can  put  to  it  and  you  don't  want  to  get  your  staff  too  big  because  if  you  have  a  recession  like  we  did,  that  created  a  problem.
 So  then  we  focused  on  predictability.  And  that's  something  that  all  agencies  can  take  a  look  at  like  to  your  point  the  person  that's  trying  to  put  their  pool  in  That  one  of  the  frustrations  is  I  don't  know  when  the  next  step  is  gonna  happen  but  if  you  can  say  hey  based  on  our  you  know  work  for  our  workforce  our  resources  we  can  your  return  of  your  Plans  is  going  to  be  between  you  know  three  to  four  weeks  if
 somebody  kind  of  knows  that  and  they  and  predict  that,  that  can  help  their  project  managers,  their  architects,  their  financing.  So  bringing  more  predictability  to  the  process,  I  think  is  a  huge  customer  service  benefit.  - I  feel  like  sometimes  when  it  comes  to  permitting,
 it's  not  just  with  the  local  agency  you're  applying  for  a  permit  for.  I'm  gonna  take  like  a  coastal  community  in,  for  example,  that  there  are  a  lot  of  other  agencies  that  needs  to  be,
 they  need  to  also  have  a  co -permitter  or  application  for  such  as  with  the  Coastal  Commission  or  something  of  some  nature.  So  those  are  things  that  we  also,  going  back  to  talking  about  expectations  is  that  just  because  you  get  a  permit  from  one  entity  doesn't  mean  that  you're  getting  a  permit  from  the  other  entity  and  going  back  to  wanting  to  help  them  and  let  them  know  that  there  are  a  number  of  jurisdictional
 permitting  that  are  needed  out  there  there  also.  I  love  how  Shane  has  when  he  was  at  the  county  implemented  a  lot  of  that  electronic  submittal  and  digitization  24 /7.
 We  hear  as  a  smaller  agency  doing  the  same  thing  as  well  and  we  find  that  introduction  of  technology  while  it  takes  a  long  time  to  ramp  up  at  the  end  of  the  day  it's  gonna  pay  dividends.
 Yeah,  agreed.  Sometimes  there's  always  bugs  in  the  beginning,  but  it  can  can  pay  off  long  term.  All  right,  question  three.  I  believe  this  came  from  someone  who  works  in  a  water  department.
 So  it  reads,  I  serve  in  a  public  works  department  for  a  fairly  large  county.  Our  team  constantly  sees  high  profile  projects  get  the  budget  and  media  attention  while  less  visible,  but  arguably  more  critical  infrastructure  needs  are  delayed  or  ignored.
 Even  after  increased  federal  funding  over  the  last  few  years.  As  leaders  of  a  public  works  department,  how  do  you  set  priorities  and  how  do  you  advocate  during  the  budget  decision -making  process?  - I  mean,
 we're  talking  about  operations  and  maintenance,  right?  So  how  do  you  get  operations  and  maintenance  prioritized  when  capital  projects  seem  to  get  the  larger  attention?  Because  your  operations  and  maintenance  projects  don't  usually  have  a  groundbreaking  and  a  ribbon  cutting,
 right?  So  it's  a  lot  of  the  stuff  that  people  never  even  know  happens.  So  a  couple  of  things--  - It  all  goes  wrong,  sorry  to  interject,  but  until  maybe  it  goes  wrong  and  then  it's  all  over  the  news.  - Of  course,  yeah,  yeah.
 So,  and  that's  one  of  the  things  about  governments  and  public  work  specifically  is  most  of  the  work  they  do,  people  don't  even  see  it,  right?  It  just  happens  at  night  or  in  the  morning  or,  you  know,  often  a  construction  site.
 So  one  of  the  things  that  I  suggest  folks  take  a  look  at  is  the  equation  that  funds  capital  projects.  So  just  real  quick,  bear  with  me,  you've  got  your  revenue  coming  in,
 right,  for  your  budget,  then  you  have  your  standard  expenses  that  come  off  the  top,  so  paying  for  your  buildings  and  your  staff  and  your  overhead  cost,  your  paper,
 whatever  it  is.  That's  the  secondary  removal,  so  revenue  minus  those  expenses.  And  then  what  normally  happens  in  some  agencies  is  they  fund  capital  projects,
 right?  We  want  to  do  these  big  projects,  and  those  get  funded,  and  then  what's  left  goes  to  operations  and  maintenance.  Well  that  equation  is  a  bit  backwards  when  you're  talking  about  preserving  your  infrastructure.
 The  right  equation  really  is  revenues  come  in,  take  away  your  standard  expenses,  then  fund  your  operations  and  maintenance,  and  then  what's  left  is  available  for  capital,  right?
 And  so  that  can  prioritize  your  O &M  operations  and  maintenance  before  the  community  or  your  elected  officials  or  other  folks  wanna  take  advantage  of  those  capital  project  funds  because  now  you've  funded  what  you  need  to  do  before  you  get  to  what  you  want  to  do.
 So  that's  one  of  the  things  I  would  ask  people  to  do  is  take  a  look  at  how  their  equation  is  built  for  funding  infrastructure.  So  the  person  that  posed  the  question  was  from  probably  you  said  from  the  water  side  and  generally  speaking  just  like  Shane  headed  on  the  head  here  they're  not  the  sexy  high -profile  projects  they're  not  the  ribbon -cutting  projects  and  they  are  really  the  essential  services  projects  and  they
 generally  don't  have  the  community  support  because  it's  kind  of  expected  and  until,  like  you  said,  if  something  breaks,
 they  don't  have  water  or  they  can't  flush  your  toilets  for  some  reason,  then  that's  when  it  really  pinches  and  it  hurts.  So  this  is  where  the  educational  piece  actually  has  to  come  into  play  before  even  the  budget  season  even  starts  or  before  even  talk  about  money.
 And  to  make  sure  that  the  public  understands  how  important,  these  essential  services  are  also  from,  again,  going  back  to  the  water  side  of  things,  how  preventative  maintenance  is  going  to  be  at  the  end  of  the  day  going  to  be  a  lot  more  cost -effective  than  an  emergency  break  of  some  sort.
 This  is  investing  properly  upfront  and  ongoing  to--  and  not  just  the  ones  have  an  enlarged  community  center.  Not  saying  those  are  not  important,
 by  the  way,  and  there  has  to  be  a  good  balance,  but  we  also  need  to  talk  about  and  educate  the  community  through  outreach  or  even  social  media  nowadays  just  to  let  them  know  that  these  things  are  important  and  needs  to  be  talked  about  and  needs  to  be  prioritized.
 Flooding,  for  example,  we  hear  flood  a  lot,  but  it's  one  of  those  things  that  if  it  doesn't  rain,  we  don't  have  El  Nidia,  we  don't  have  atmospheric  rivers,  sorry,  people  forget  about  it,
 but  it's  something  that  we  just  have  to  plan  in  advance.  Again,  not  one  of  those  sexy  projects  again.  So  yeah,  I'm  very  passionate  about  this  as  being  on  the  public  work  side  that  I  put  safety  first  and  foremost.
 And  so  that's  why  I  really  advocate  for  these  things  and  really  make  sure  that  our  council  knows  also  so  we  can  budget  accordingly  to  split  it  and  get  buy -off  from  whether  it's  community,
 council,  the  other  departments  to  make  sure  that  everybody  has  like  skin  in  the  game  if  you  will  and  provide  their  input  from  different  perspectives  so  we  could  kind  of  put  together  a  comprehensive  plan  as  well.
 It's  not  just  at  the  end  of  the  day  how  public  works,  we're  just  looking  really  from  safety  but  not  looking  from  quality  of  life  side.  So  lots  of  building  blocks  to  put  together  and  a  lot  more  complicated.
 I  see  it  as  a  lot  more  complicated  than  actually  just  putting  together  some  numbers,  which  looks  that  way  in  a  budget  book,  but  there's  a  lot  of  thought  behind  it.  - Yeah,  that  gets  back  to  interviews  like  this,
 questions  like  this.  It's  not  just  about  the  technical  expertise  to  put  the  budget  together  correctly.  It's  the  personal,  interpersonal  skills,  do  you  have  to  have  those  conversations  with  the  city  town  manager,
 maybe  even  the  council  directly?  How  does  that  work  when  you're  in  that  public  works  director  seat  to  not  just  show  them  the  numbers  and  the  budget  proposed,  but  kind  of  explain  to  them,
 especially  it's  not  like  the  other  sides  necessarily  have  bad  intentions.  They  just  think,  oh,  all  that  stuff  gets  taken  care  of,  right?  Let's  do  exciting  projects  A,  B,  and  C.  And  then,  oh,  well,  wait,  we  got  to  address  this  first.
 How  do  you  do  that  on  a,  it's  not  politics,  it's  not  what  we're  here  to  do,  obviously,  but  how  do  you  get  the  buy -in  on  a  personal  level  beyond  just  numbers  in  a  presentation?
 - I  was  gonna  offer  Iris,  hit  something  on  the  head  that  triggered  me  on  the  comprehensive  planning.  In  this  case,  a  lot  of  times  we  call  that  asset  management  and  having  your  agency  aligned  with  saying  we're  going  to  manage  our  assets.
 And  then  the  second  layer  of  that  is  to  what  level,  right?  And  so  presenting  that  and  using  that  data  through  the  process  with  elected  officials  in  the  community,  and  maybe  it's  community  surveys,
 right?  And  this  is  hard  to  do.  So  I'm  careful  about  this,  especially  for  larger  agencies,  but  a  community  survey,  excuse  me,  did  you  know  we  have  this  many  miles  of  roadways?  Do  you  know,  we  have  this  many  miles  of  water  lines,  you  know,
 we  have  this  many  miles  of  sewer  lines.  What  quality  are  you  looking  for  there?  Roadways  aren't  easy  when  people  look  at  pavement  condition  index,  but  wrapping  that  all  into  an  asset  management  priority  and  then  using  those  community  surveys  during  budget  time  or  with  elected  officials  or  with  community  meetings,
 say,  look,  as  a  community,  we  said  these  things  were  important  to  us,  right?  Clean  water,  right?  potable  water  that  has  a  certain  quality,  having  good  treatment  of  our  sewer  system,
 so  we're  not  polluting  things  downstream,  having  good  roadways,  things  like  that,  and  then  taking  those  community  priorities  and  working  those  back  into  your  asset  management  follow -up  with  the  budgetary  discussion  and  strategies.
 So  thanks,  Iris,  for  hitting  that.  - Just  like  Shane  said,  getting  community  feedback,  the  data  is  very  important  and  just  to  justify  and  really  provide  that  background  of  why  certain  things  are  needed.
 I  think  visuals  are  very  important  as  well  too.  I  don't  know  if  it's  something  that's  really  feasible  for  many  agencies,  but  we  like  to  give  tours  of  our  facilities  as  well.
 So  everybody  knows.  Some  people  are  data -driven  and  we  give  them  a  whole  bunch  of  spreadsheets  and  a  whole  bunch  of  data.  They  love  it,  but  some  people  are  more  visual  and  they  need  to  see  like  what  what  it  really  looks  like  like  take  take  us  a  Cross -section  of  a  pipeline  and  show  them  how  it  really  looks  like  and  Why  you  need  to  replace  it?
 I  think  that  one  picture  and  like  if  they  hold  it  in  front  of  them,  they  they  get  it.  So  it's  one  of  those  like  so  We  need  to  educate  the  community  on  those  things.
 When  we  do  go  through  our  CIP  process,  it's  not  just  a  budget  book  that  we  hand  over,  but  we  actually  do  explain  every  single  project.  Long  and  tedious,  but  absolutely  necessary  so  they  know  what  they're  voting  for,
 what  they're  spending  their  money  on,  what  they're  getting  at  the  end  of  the  day.  - Okay,  and  to  tie  it  back  to  that  first  training  and  development  question,  is  this  an  example  where  an  up  and  becoming  high  performer  in  a  public  works  or  really  any  department,
 they  have  the  technical  skills  they  can  put  together  those  presentations  or  crunch  those  numbers  and  give  the  logical  pitch  for  it.  But  being  in  the  leadership  seat  or  whatever  level,
 that's  another  skill  set  and  whether  it's  a  formal  class  or  again,  not  necessarily  training  but  development,  that's  the  kind  of  thing  where  it's  parallel  but  it's  not  the  exact,  it's  not  necessarily  on  that  resume  or  on  that  job  description,
 maybe  when  they're  ready  to  start  applying  for  director  or  senior  manager  level  positions,  that's  the  kind  of  thing  that  they  need  to  be  not  just  thinking  about,  but  getting  experience,  right?  And  that  goes  back  to  your  jobs  as  the  boss,
 helping  your  staff  understand  that  while  you're  doing  it  can  help  them  develop  to  be  ready  to  do  in  the  future.  Is  that  fair?  Yeah,  and  that's  a  great  exercise  for  somebody  that  is  maybe  a  high  performer  wants  to  do  some  development  is  To  to  take  part  in  a  fee  update  process,
 right  water  and  sewer  lines  are  normally  fee -based  for  how  they're  funded  and  Everybody  wants  to  know  what  goes  into  that,  you  know,  whatever  $50  I  pay  a  month  for  water  Especially  if  you're  gonna  go  every  few  years  to  to  update  and  usually  those  costs  are  going  to  go  up  and  that's  where  somebody  through  a  development  opportunity  can  really  see  what  all  goes  into  that  puzzle  to  come  up  with  that  overall  fee  and  what
 you're  justifying  the  data  you're  using  to  justifying  that  going  forward  and  then  that's  where  you  can  help  also  with  the  priorities  to  say  look  you  know  if  we  can  maintain  the  system  at  this  level  and  invest  in  the  operations  and  maintenance  we  may  not  have  to  do  these  major  capital  projects  in  the  future.
 This  is  kind  of  back  to  the  water  and  wastewater  issue.  Because  if  we  have  to  go  down  that  path,  our  fee  is  going  to  look  like  this  later  on.  And  if  we  keep  it  well  maintained,
 we  think  about  things  today,  maybe  our  fee  can  be  more  stable  for  longer.  So  sometimes  when  you  start  talking  to  communities  about  how  it's  going  to  affect  their  pocketbook,  sometimes  they  will  pay  a  little  bit  more  attention  to  what's  going  into  that  number,
 and  why  is  that  important?  All  right,  well,  Ira  Shane,  thank  you  for  your  time  covering  professional  development,  permitting,  and  budgeting  today,  and  for  your  service  and  local  government.  Thank  you  again,
 Joe.  Thanks,  Joe.  Thanks  for  having  us.  Good  to  see  you,  Ira.  Thanks  for  being  on.



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Iris Lee, Public Works Director of Seal Beach, California

Shane Silsby, CEO and Founder of Silsby Strategic Advisors


Three Question Local Gov Life Advice

(2:10) Question 1: "What’s your advice to encourage, nudge, (borderline force) employees to use and make the most of their available training programs and professional development funding?"

And how can local government leaders effectively implement workforce development programs to enhance the skills, knowledge, and overall professional growth of their employees in today's landscape of generational transitions?

(17:27) Question 2: Complaints about permitting are always one of the biggest issues for our support and communications teams. This remains a huge rift between residents and local governments. What can local government do better? 

(26:23) Question 3: I serve in a public works department for a fairly large county. Our team constantly sees high profile projects get the budget and media attention while less visible but arguably more critical infrastructure needs are delayed or ignored. Even after increased Federal funding over the last few years. As leaders of a public works department, how do you set priorities? And how do you advocate during the budget/decision making process?


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Managing for Meteors: Preparing Local Government Leaders Before the Impact

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