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Norwich City Council OKs goals for city manager

By Claire Bessette

Publication: The Day

Published February 20. 2013 4:00AM

Norwich - The City Council unanimously approved a set of goals for the city manager Tuesday that includes consideration of reinstating the assistant manager's position and creating a committee to study possible consolidation of city schools and a review of other city properties.

The council has been meeting behind closed doors during meetings for the past few months discussing City Manager Alan Bergren's performance evaluation. The council voted unanimously without comment Tuesday in open session on the goals, setting time frames for each.

The top goal is to "increase and improve flow of information to the mayor and City Council on performance of city departments under Bergren's authority. Part of that goal calls for evaluating possible reorganization of the manager's office, designating some staff from other departments to that office and "review if there is a need for an assistant city manager."

After the meeting, Bergren acknowledged adding a top-level administrative position to the budget during the current recession and tight budget times would not be feasible. Mayor Peter Nystrom added that he already has expressed desire to not add any new positions to next year's budget.

But Bergren said when the position was cut from the budget a few years ago, along with a second office secretary, it left the office with no back-up for absences. The manager's office must be locked when both Bergren and administrative assistant Jill Brennan are out.

"A lot of things are lost when we don't have a back-up," Bergren said.

Bergren said he will consider instead assigning additional duties that could be associated with an assistant manager to existing city department heads. He also is considering assigning specific tasks to specific city staff members as needed.

Several of the manager's goals have been given deadlines, including having a five-year public safety plan within three months and creating a committee within one month to study school consolidation and other city infrastructure and report back to the council within six months.

Bergren said that stemmed from the city's recent experience when the Board of Education closed two schools - the Greeneville and William A. Buckingham schools - and the city was left with immediate decisions to dispose of the two vacant buildings.

The infrastructure plan would include other major city buildings, including the need for a $100 million upgrade to the sewage treatment plant and sewer system.

"We need overall five-, 10- and 20-year plans on infrastructure needs," Bergren said.

c.bessette@theday.com

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