IaCMA Newsletter

Iowa City / County Management Association

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IaCMA Newsletter Information October 2019

Jessica Kinser receives Rhonda Wood Smith Award

Marshalltown City Administrator Jessica Kinser was awarded the Rhonda Wood Smith award as aJessica Kinser 2n outstanding young city official from the Iowa League of Cities. Kinser was recognized for her achievements during the awards banquet at the Iowa League of Cities Annual Conference & Exhibit in Dubuque on September 26, 2019.

Jessica began work at the City of Clinton in October of 2011 when she was hired as Finance Director. She served in that position until June 2013. From January through June 2013, she also acted in the dual capacities of Interim City Administrator and Finance Director. Jessica was hired as the City Administrator in Clinton in June of 2013.

Kinser was brought in to Marshalltown in November 2016 because of her sophisticated understanding of municipal finance, her people skills, and her energy in community development. Recently, Jessica expertly navigated a large natural disaster when a pair of EF-3 tornadoes with wind speeds that reached 144 mph swept through Pella and Marshalltown.

Marshalltown suffered the most widespread damage. The tornado coursed through downtown, toppling part of the historic Marshall County Courthouse. Jessica proved her mettle in working with community organizations and FEMA in managing the reconstruction for the City.

The Rhonda Wood Smith Award was created to recognize exemplary work of young city officials and those new to city government. The criteria included innovation, bold leadership, commitment and sacrifice. The award was named for Rhonda Wood Smith, a single parent who served as mayor of Garner while working as a municipal consultant. She succumbed to cancer early in 1997 after establishing an outstanding reputation as a civic minded person committed to her community. The intent of the award is to encourage and affirm participation in local government by young people who may make greater sacrifice for public service due to significant career and family commitments.

Congratulations to Jessica Kinser for her work as Marshalltown’s City Administrator and for receiving the Rhonda Wood Smith Award as an outstanding young city official.

Past award recipients include:
1997       The Family of Rhonda Wood Smith
1998       Paul Smith, Mayor of Gilbert
1999       Dennis Woodruff, Mayor of Carlisle
2001       Ed Smith, Mayor of Carroll
2002       Hector Velez, City Council, Storm Lake
2003       Matt Brick, City Council, Windsor Heights
2004       Karen Forneris, City Council, Sioux City
2005       Charles “Chaz” Allen, Mayor of Newton
2006       Ryan Heiar, City Administrator, Eagle Grove
2008       Candi Schmieder, City Council, Marengo
2008       Jeff Beauregard, Mayor of Palo
2009       Ellen Habel, Assistant City Administrator, Coralville
2010       Clint Fichter, City Manager, Avoca
2012       Eric Bookmeyer, Mayor of Mason City
2013       Adam Schweers, Mayor of Carroll
2013       Corey Goodenow, City Manager, Chariton
2014       Laura Schaefer, City Clerk, Carroll
2015       Quentin Hart, City Council and Mayor Pro Tem of Waterloo
2016       Dawn Rohe, City Manager, Manning
2017       Brad Magg, City Council, Colfax
2019       Jessica Kinser, City Administrator, Marshalltown

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IaCMA Newsletter Information October 2019

Matt Mardesen receives IaCMA’s Manager of the Year Award

Nevada’s City Manager, Matt Mardesen, was awarded the Manager of the Year Award from the IowMardesen - 2019a City/County Management Association (IaCMA) during the Awards Banquet at the Iowa League of Cities Annual Conference & Exhibit in Dubuque on September 26, 2019.

IaCMA’s Annual Manager of the Year Award honors chief administrators whose accomplishments and superior work performance represent the best possible application of management principles and whose creative contributions to professional local government management increases public awareness of the value of professional management to the quality of life in our communities.

Mardesen has been actively engaged in Nevada since he accepted his position in 2017. Known for his professionalism, hard work and ability to come up with new and creative solutions, he was nominated separately by his mayor and two of his peer city managers.

Mayor Brett Barker stated in the nomination that, “I consider the time we have worked together to be a blessing to me and the community. During that time, he has enacted numerous policies and practices that have enhanced the efficiency and effectiveness of our municipality.”

Some of Mardesen’s accolades include working within his community to partner and collaborate with outside agencies to help promote and push forward their local community. Business expansion and working on local improvements have been a commitment under his tenure. Mardesen is heavily involved in both local and state organizations, helping their community and enhance their own professionalism.

Other city managers have noted Mardesen is well known and respected in the profession and is very active with state level activities.  He is also engaged in civic activity as a member of Rotary, Main Street Nevada, Economic Development Council, and a mentor in the local school district.

A fellow manager who nominated Mardesen for this award sums it up best, “Mardesen is a steward to his community and embodies the characteristics of a true leader.”

Congratulations to Matt Mardesen for his work as Nevada’s City Administrator and for receiving the Iowa City/County Management Association’s Manager of the Year Award.

The Iowa City/County Management Association was established in 1972 with the purpose of increasing the knowledge and abilities of local government managers and administrators, to promote the exchange of information between members and support the functions and aims of the International City/County Management Association. Additional information on the association can be found at http://www.iacma.net.

The Iowa City/County Management Association’s Annual Manager of the Year Award honors chief administrators whose accomplishments and superior work performance represent the best possible application of management principles and whose creative contributions to professional local government management increases public awareness of the value of professional management to the quality of life in our communities.
To be considered for the Manager of the Year Award, the chief administrator must be a full (voting) IaCMA member.  Candidates must be employed as the chief appointed administrative officer in a municipality.  Candidates must have overall management responsibility and be appointed or confirmed by the legislative body, the elected chief executive and/or the chief appointed administrative officer.

The Association’s past award recipients include:
2007       Mike Van Milligen- Dubuque
2008       Jim Prosser- Cedar Rapids
2009       Carol Ann Diekema- Monroe
2010       Jeff Mark- Altoona
2011       Bill Daily- Belle Plaine
2012       Tom Brownlow- Charles City
2013       Jim Ferneau- Burlington
2014       Elizabeth Hansen – Nevada
2015       Jessica Kinser – Clinton
2016       Jeff Pomeranz – Cedar Rapids
2017       Aaron Burnett – Keokuk
2018       Michael Schrock – Oskaloosa
2019       Matt Mardesen – Nevada

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Board of Regents approves new Masters program of University of Iowa

Chuck Connerly recently announced Iowa’s Board of Regents has approved creation of a Master of Public Affairs program at the University of Iowa.

Dean of the Graduate College John Keller said most of the courses offered in the interdisciplinary program will be conducted on campus, but some will be online.

“Expected enrollment in the program includes students returning to school from the workforce”, he said, “as well as from related undergraduate programs at the UI and other universities.”

“There is no accredited degree program available in this area in the state currently,” Keller said. “So state agencies, government officials, and city administrators and whatnot have to recruit individuals from other states to come and work in these areas.”

Connerly said he expects recruitment for the Fall 2020 inaugural class to begin very soon.

For more information, please check for updates with the University of Iowa’s Graduate Programs website. https://www.grad.uiowa.edu/programs


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IaCMA Newsletter – July 2019

City of Bondurant and City Administrator Marketa Oliver Recognized for
IaCMA’s Program of the Year Award.

Excerpted from award nomination

Bondurant Ultra High-Pressure Program

Marketa Oliver, City Administrator
Aaron Kreuder, Fire Chief

Problem Assessment:

Bondurant is the fastest growing city in Iowa and located in the greater Des Moines metropolitan area. The City is at a size where it is transitioning from a paid-per-call (PPC) fire department to a full-time fire department. It becomes more and more difficult to recruit paid-per-call fire fighters during the day. If an incident occurs during the day, response time is longer due to less availability of PPC fire fighters. In turn, longer response times leads to less impressive ISO ratings, which could have made Bondurant less attractive to a homebuyer. Additionally, because Bondurant is growing quickly, it has abundant infrastructure needs, yet a tax base that is slow to catch up with the needs.

In an effort to reduce response times, four members of Bondurant Emergency Services
attended a Summit in November 2017 (the first held in Iowa), to learn about ultra-high-pressure technology. Staff attended a four-hour classroom presentation on the science behind the technology and then live burn scenarios. Chief Aaron Harris of Middleton Wisconsin Fire Department and his crew lead the Summit and shared their experiences with UHP systems Middleton has in place.

Ultra-high pressure is defined by the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) as pump pressures above 1100 psi. By flowing water at these pressures, 10 times the surface area is created by breaking down conventional water droplets into 64 smaller droplets, decreasing the amount of water used to approximately a fifth of what conventional firefighting would use. Greater surface area means more contact with the fire and more efficient heat absorption. When the water droplet absorbs heat, it converts to steam, displacing oxygen, removing heat from the superheated environment and extinguishing the fire. This technology was originally developed for NASA as a propulsion system that blasted spacecraft beyond the stratosphere and formulated propellants to fuel them. Throughout that process, the inventors developed an understanding of high-pressure fluid flows through nozzles dealing with extremely high temperatures and rapid cooling. At the technology developed further for the space industry, it became clear that it had applications for firefighting.

Program Implementation and Costs:

Bondurant Emergency Services leadership was so impressed by the performance of the systems that the City determined it would be beneficial to the department and was a good solution to reduce response times. The City developed plans to put two systems in place. Because the two systems would be retrofitted to current vehicles, the cost for both systems would be less than $55,000. By December 1st, the City Administrator developed funding methodologies to purchase the system and the UHP program was officially greenlit. Fire Department staff also solicited and secured a $15,000 grant from Prairie Meadows. The first unit was placed in service April 2018. The second unit took a little more time because it had to be custom made for the cold weather modifications. The second unit went in service September 2018.

Bondurant Emergency Services now has two similar, yet also different, systems in place. The City retro fitted the 2006 brush truck with a standard UHP system. It has 200 gallons of water and a UHP system. The system supplies 20 gallons a minute of water through a ¾” hydraulic steel braided hose that is much easier to control and manipulate compared to the traditional 1 ¾” hand line.  It is controlled through a combination nozzle that was specially designed for the system to deliver 1400 PSI at the nozzle. Bondurant also has a 100-gallon system that was designed for our command truck. It has a topper and heater for cold weather and is a take home vehicle, meaning it responds directly to the scene to allow for an initial transitional fire attack from the outside of the structure while the larger apparatus and second UHP system is responding from the station, thus cutting down the time to get water on the fire. This is the first cold-weather UHP system in the nation. This system operates the same way as the other system, but provides 1250 psi, in an effort to limit the water usage a little further to gain more attack time and compensate for the smaller water tank in a lighter duty vehicle. Both systems can be dialed back by simply turning a valve to 10 gallons a minute for water conservation on grass and field fires. Both systems also have foam capabilities. To date, both systems have been used on multiple fires successfully. City staff has been so impressed by the systems, they developed a training team that travels the state to demonstrate how Ultra High Pressure works and the benefits it has to the fire service. (They do not charge for the training and the training is not affiliated with any manufacturer.) Bondurant believes in the science and technology and feels a responsibility to educate others on the benefit.

Tangible results:

It should be noted that this technology is a great augmentation to current equipment. It has never been the intention nor were the City’s systems ever designed to replace pumpers or engines. These units are still very much a necessity, however since pumper/engines cost anywhere from $450,000.00 to $1.5 million dollars each, employing the UHP technology enables the City to extend the life of the costlier vehicles by utilizing smaller more efficient pickup trucks for the initial attack. This will result in less wear and tear on the larger units and reduce the need for them to respond emergent to most fires. The cost of a new pickup truck and UHP skid unit vary by manufacturer and design specification. That said, even a very well-equipped unit such as the City’s command truck would cost less than $175,000 new. Many departments already have a brush truck and/or a pickup, as was the case in Bondurant. The overall expense for Bondurant was significantly reduced by retro fitting vehicles the City already owned.  Bondurant spent less than $55,000 putting two units in service and added an additional 5 years on two of our frontline pumper tankers replacement cycle. Since the actual replacement schedule for most frontline engines and pumpers is 20 years and the cost of the truck is on average $550,000 (and rising each year), we are able to continually keep equipment longer and stretch out the replacement schedule.  City staff is currently evaluating the need to replace one of the current pumper tenders entirely by simply incorporating an additional UHP response unit into our fleet. This means not only saving money on the front end with less expensive vehicles but also with cost savings in the ability to remount the skid units in new chassis, it is potential to achieve a cost savings of over $400,000 within the next 15 years, after the expense of the additional truck and UHP system.  To clarify, UHP is not intended to eliminate the need for full size engines and pumpers, but it does have the capability to substantially reduce the number of full-size pumpers and engines needing replaced every 20 years.

Because of the efficient use of water, a UHP system is well-suited to fit on smaller, more agile vehicles, Bondurant is able to respond with a smaller crew, leading to quicker departure and response time. Instead of a fire fighter needing to respond to the station, wait for other staff to arrive to have the appropriate number to staff a pumper or rescue truck, then leave the station for the address where help is needed, with the UHP system, one person can respond to the scene, directly from home and start the attack on the fire. This saves valuable time. Additionally, once on scene, the UHP system has been tested and shown to be operational within 15 seconds of arriving. Studies have demonstrated that fire can double in size every 30-60 seconds.

The quicker attacking UHP system can prevent the spread of a fire and keep a single room fire from consuming an entire structure. Because the water is used more efficiently, the residual water left behind is minimal as compared to a low-pressure system, causing less water damage and helping the victims of the water to resume occupancy of the structure quicker. Vehicle fires are of concern to Bondurant, as the City is located off of two intersections of I-80. With the UHP system, vehicle fires can be put with just one-person.

Paying it forward:

City staff is currently involved in planning for an educational summit in Bondurant, scheduled for May 31st – June 2nd. Staff is working with our local school district to use the high school auditorium and classrooms for educational, keynote, and breakout sessions. The Fire Chief has lined up several vehicles and a house to burn to demonstrate not only the value of the UHP system, but also to offer training on it. This is shaping up to be a large summit, with 300 participants from around the country, focused on UHP technology, but also including other topics. The Fire Chief has secured approximately 20 vehicles and one house to burn, to show the abilities of the technology. There is the possibility of having a nationally recognized “legend” in the fire service to deliver the keynote presentation. Staff is also currently working through the appropriate channels to offer CEH’s for ongoing training. This is the largest UHP summit ever! Representatives from Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) will be involved as well. Finally, another goal of the summit is to involve key decision makers form the National Fire Protection Association to look at rule making for this technology, to make the technology more available and safer in its implementation.

This is all done in goal of advancing firefighting capabilities, reducing response times, and decreasing long- term fire operation costs, not only in our own community, but in our state and even nationally.

Following are pictures showing a single firefighter attacking a vehicle fire. The fire was under control within 30 seconds and fully extinguished in under one minute.

Congratulations City of Bondurant for an outstanding new program!

To be considered for the Program of the Year Award, the local government’s chief administrator must be a full (voting) IaCMA member.  Each program nomination must be independent and cannot be a component of another program.  Eligible programs must be:
    • Administered under the authority of one or more governmental entities, with only limited outside assistance from experts/consultants
    • Currently be in operation and have been fully implemented within the last 3 years.
    • Must demonstrate tangible results

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IaCMA Newsletter – July 2019

2019 Emerging Leader Award – Kyle Michel

excerpted from award nomination

The IaCMA’s Emerging Leader Award is presented to a local government and the chief adminKyle Michelistrator or assistant chief administrator in recognition of his/her innovate and successful programs.

Kyle entered the profession of municipal management in 2016 as a Management Intern for the City of Windsor Heights, Iowa (4,953). Employed in the City Administrator’s office, Kyle was exposed to a variety of projects that would provide developmental opportunities in local government budgeting, personnel policies and employee relations, and nuisance abatement and Code enforcement procedures. During his time with Windsor Heights, Kyle completed a budget analysis project that was crucial to the City’s budgeting procedures. This analysis served as a summary of the proposed budget for public review and dissemination.

From Windsor Heights, Kyle transition to the City of Van Meter, Iowa (1,131) where he again served as a Management Intern within the City Administrator’s office. While serving in this position, Kyle assisted with a slum and blight survey of the City. This survey enabled the City to amend its tax abatement program, thus increasing the average number of new residential construction permits per year from 8 to 25. This position also exposed Kyle to a higher level of responsibility, showing his ability to be flexible and take on challenging tasks with little direction or oversight. Throughout this internship, Kyle regularly staffed City Hall by himself and conducted the daily clerical responsibilities of the City. This experience would set Kyle apart from his peer group and pave the way to immediate success upon graduating with his Master of Public Administration and transitioning into his first full-time role within the profession.

After completing his Masters, Kyle began working for the City of Elkhart, Iowa (812) as the City Clerk and only full-time employee of the City. Kyle was offered this position as a recent graduate with the necessary skill set, experience, and education to help transition the City to a council-manager form of government. During his tenure he identified and addressed numerous projects for the betterment of the City of Elkhart, the region, and the profession as a whole.

Upon starting in Elkhart, Kyle immediately identified a need for more efficient and effective communication originating from City Hall. To address this problem, Kyle personally updated the City’s website to a more user-friendly site allowing him to better communicate with residents but also allows residents to have more immediate access to necessary information. Furthermore, Kyle improved upon communication between his office and his elected officials by transitioning to paperless packets. This allowed Kyle to get information in front of his elected officials sooner while also reducing paper waste and printing costs. These efficiency efforts resulted in a 66% reduction in printing costs over the first year of implementation and helped the City receive grant funding from the Metro Waste Authority to provide tablets to elected officials and staff.

Kyle also understands the importance of continued investment in further education as it relates to the profession. In 2017, Kyle secured scholarships and funding to attend IMMI, IMFOA Spring Conference, Iowa SMART Conference, IaCMA Summer Conference, Iowa League of   Cities Conference as well as the ICMA Annual Conference in San Antonio. Additionally, he has stressed the importance of education to his staff and elected officials, allowing for both to attend numerous trainings and conferences throughout 2017. He was also able to send two councilmembers to the Iowa Municipal Leadership Academy with one of those councilmembers being newly elected and determined to receive his certification. Kyle would continue his professional development in 2018 by being selected to speak on the topic of small-town budget constraints at the ICMA Annual Conference in Baltimore.

Kyle would continue to implement successful programs and procedures in Elkhart through a variety of utility projects.  With limited staff and contracted affidavit utility operators, Kyle wanted to ensure his water utility was operating in an efficient manner. As such, he created a monthly tracker that enabled him to monitor his water production data and compare it to his utility billing data. This allowed Kyle to identify instances of water loss within the utility system and kept the City accountable for system loss, enabling the reduction of average loss from over 20% to below 10%. He also facilitated the analysis of the City’s water sources by partnering with the Iowa Rural Water Association.  This analysis provided education to both elected officials, City staff, and residents and resulted in the creation of a Source Water Protection Plan.  As a result of this project, the City received the 2018 Program of the Year Award from the Iowa City and County Managers Association.

From Elkhart, Kyle transitioned back to Van Meter to take up the mantel of City Administrator in July 2018. This position would expose him to his first fiscal year audit. Through this process, Kyle addressed auditor comments from prior audits and created policies to ensure the segregation of fiscal duties within City Hall and other departments of the City. He also would address and oversee the implementation of Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards for the City, an audit comment that was present throughout multiple fiscal cycles.

Through the City’s economic development programs and efforts, Kyle developed a standard incentive package and community profile to include with the City’s first-in-State Certified Site marketing efforts. These efforts helped with conveying the City’s economic development goals and increased the average number of site visits per year. This collaborative approach to large development incentives helped bolster relationships between the City, the Van Meter school district, and Dallas County and helped to ensure that all impacted parties benefit from potential development projects within the City.

During his first budget cycle with the City of Van Meter, Kyle implemented professional development with his department heads by providing them with budget training and the necessary tools to analyze expenditures and plan their budgets. This would be the first time Van Meter department heads played an active role in reviewing past performances and accurately forecasting budget expenditures as a team. This professional development continued with the City’s Finance Committee and City Council by actively including elected officials in the planning and review process. Providing education increased the overall understanding of the budget process by the elected officials. This all-in approach to budgeting promoted teamwork and efficiency which ultimately resulted in a 2% reduction in budgeted expenditures as well as an overall levy rate reduction of $0.14.

In addition to the time Kyle dedicates to this profession, he still maintains an active role within    his community as a volunteer.  Kyle served as the Athletic Director for the Des Moines Chapter of Team Red, White and Blue from 2015 to 2018. Team RWB seeks to connect veterans to their communities through physical and social activity. In his role, Kyle coordinated athletic events all over the greater Des Moines metropolitan area. These events ranged anywhere from free to   attend workouts and volunteer support operations for large running events like the Des Moines Marathon to charity focused competitive events. Kyle still maintains an active role in the organization but has passed the leadership mantel on to allow other leaders to develop.

He currently helps to mentor the new Chapter Captain and Athletic Director as they seek to develop their own events and activities. Kyle also actively participates in the veteran’s nonprofit, Alpha Nerds Guild, an organization that helps connect veterans through video games. Their efforts help fight social stigmas by providing veterans with access to online gaming outlets where they can connect to other veterans while promoting healthy communication and camaraderie.

Kyle also continues to serve his community and nation as an officer in the Army Reserves.  He currently serves as a Medical Services Officer attached to the 103rd ESC out of Fort Des Moines, Iowa. He has served in the Army, Iowa Army National Guard, and Army Reserves through multiple periods of service starting in 2005.

Please join in recognizing our 2019 Emerging Leader Award winner, Kyle Michel.

Congratulations Kyle!


Emerging Leader past recipients
2010 Doug Boldt- Tipton
2011 Josh Heggen- Windsor Heights
2012 Larry Burks- Onawa
2013 Matt McQuillen- Clive
2014 Chelsea Huisman- Center Point
2015 Laura Graham- Des Moines
2016 Amanda Kaufman- Marion
2017 Angie Charipar- Cedar Rapids
2018 Nicholas MacGregor – Burlington
2019 Kyle Michel – Van Meter

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ICMA Coaching Program

ICMA’s coaching program is offering a free webinar series.

First in the series is “Ethics in Action – When it’s your duty to say “No”.

When do you need to say “no” and how do you do it effectively? Learn the most prevalent ethical
issues and how can you spot them. Hear ways to strengthen the ethical culture in your organization
and what roles can everyone play.
Wednesday, April 10
1:00 – 2:30pm cst


Other webinars in the series includes sessions on:

Retooling workplace culture to thrive in the 21st century
May 16

Encouraging inclusive communities
June 12

Grappling with gnarly issues (opioids, homelessness, etc): How local government can help
September 11

Promoting trust in a divisive world
October 10

Having difficult conversations in your organization and beyond
November 14

You may see more information about the series and register for free here.

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IMMI 2019 fast approaching

Registration is now open for the 2019 Iowa Municipal Management Institute (IMMI). IMMI is presented by the Iowa City/County Management Association with assistance from the Iowa League of Cities. The event will take place March 20-22, 2019, at the Graduate Iowa City Hotel (formerly the Sheraton). IMMI is a professional development program for Iowa’s city/county managers and administrators and other local government professionals. Conference registration is $350 ($100 less than last year thanks to our generous sponsors). A late fee of $50 will be added to registrations beginning March 6.

Conference Agenda
Online Registration (must have League website login)

Hotel Reservations
Graduate Iowa City Hotel (210 S Dubuque St, Iowa City, IA 52240)
Special rates have been negotiated for IMMI. Reservations can be made by going to the link here or by calling 319-337-4058 and referencing IMMI 2019. Room rates under the block are $95. Room block expires February 26, 2019.