2014 Annual Report
Community and Information Services
The community and information services department is responsible for the planning and implementation of community engagement efforts, volunteer coordination, information technology services, front desk customer services and administrative support and services. The department also serves as the focal point for all City communications, both internal and external. The department is managed by a community and information services director, an administrative coordinator, a communications and engagement coordinator, a customer service representative and a volunteer coordinator. The department also works with a contracted director of citizen engagement. It is the daily goal of these staff members to deliver services that meet the City’s mission, with actions and behaviors consistent with the City’s values and leadership philosophy.
2014, a Year of Change
The year 2014 was one of great change for the community engagement and customer service departments. When the City’s current strategic plan was created in 2011, a goal was developed to study the organizational structure and workforce to ensure it remains a national leader in the delivery of services and meets the essential needs of the community in an efficient and financially-sustainable manner. An outcome of this goal was the consolidation of the community engagement and customer service departments into one department, the community and information services department. The second major change was to realign community pool, recreation programming and special event activities, which were previously under the community engagement department, to be under the public works department to realize work process and management efficiencies. There was no increase in the number of positions as part of this recommendation; however, a senior management position was eliminated and a frontline position was added.
The Montgomery Citizens’ Leadership Academy (MCLA) continued to be oversubscribed in its seventh year. At the conclusion of the 2014 class, 26 highly-engaged citizens graduated resulting in an Alumni group now topping 180.
The MCLA Alumni Reunion Summit, led by Barbara White and a team of seven alumni, was held on Thursday, August 14 at Terwilliger Lodge. The event was planned, organized and executed by the MCLA alumni team with some oversight by community engagement staff. Over the last few years, staff has worked to build the capacity of this group to allow for the ownership and success of this event by MCLA alumni.
In 2013, the Community Engagement Grant was awarded to Montgomery Food Share for the purchase of 1,000 reusable bags embossed with the Montgomery Food Share logo. Since the award of this grant, all 1,000 bags have been distributed in thirteen organized neighborhoods. A total of 20,380 lbs. of food was collected in 2014 resulting in 16,985 meals being provided to families in need.
Connect Montgomery has grown to a group of 21 community organizations dedicated to working collaboratively on shared service projects and effective communications. In 2014, Connect Montgomery’s Making A Difference Day was organized by John Nolan and Jeff Boyle of St. Barnabas Episcopal Church. Not only has ownership of this important yearly event shifted to another community group, members of Connect Montgomery, including several ministers of the Montgomery Ministerial Association, have taken on more leadership and responsibility for the direction and facilitation of Connect Montgomery.
In April of 2014, the Alliance for Innovation invited the City of Montgomery to present a case study about myCommuniTree.com during its national conference as an example of a shared service that could be easily utilized by other communities across the country. This social media aggregator and event calendar was designed to be a one-stop communications hub for residents to view similar event and meeting information from the Cities of Montgomery and Blue Ash and the Sycamore Community Schools.
The engagement staff, with participation from other key City staff members, hosted two Neighborhood Leaders Forums, one in May and a second in November. The May forum focused on management of urban wildlife as taught by Naturalist Carol Mundy of Great Parks of Hamilton County and the second forum focused on training and education on EMS SignPost, and an update from the Community Emergency Response Team, while also providing the opportunity for attendees to provide input on the Gateway Redevelopment Area.
Sister Cities Commission
The City of Montgomery marked twenty-five years of friendship with Sister City Neuilly-Plaisance, France in 2014. To commemorate the anniversary, a 3D street mural was commissioned to be created during the Bastille Day Celebration held on July 19. The mural was visible for many months on Ted Gregory Lane next to Montgomery Cyclery.
During the week of October 12 through 18, the Sister Cities Commission and the City of Montgomery hosted 19 French delegates from Montgomery’s Sister City, Neuilly-Plaisance, France. The delegates included four deputy mayors, two municipal councilors, a municipal advisor, two deputy general directors of city services, an educational advisor, a director and assistant director of culture and events, the principal of the agricultural college, an English professor at the College of Neuilly-Plaisance, an executive assistant to the secretary of the mayor, and the Graveleine family whose 14-year-old daughter, Madeline, had previously been hosted by the Blomberg family. Madeline was honored with a proclamation during the 2014 Bastille Day Celebration.
The exchange delegates visited E. H. Greene Intermediate School and University of Cincinnati Blue Ash as they participated in tours and conversations about area educational systems. They also learned about programs for senior populations during a visit to Twin Lakes.
The exchange was made possible through the support of several volunteer interpreters and thirteen host families who opened up their homes and provided transportation, meals, and, most of all, warm hospitality. In addition, many cultural events were made possible through the generous contributions of several area sponsors.
In January of 2014 a computerized Point of Sale system was installed at the front desk. This new process of central payments has established yet another control measure of accountability and security. Sales history and detailed reporting allows for historical data that was not available through the manual cash register previously used.
In 2014 the revised lodge rental rate and park shelter reservation rules took effect. A non-resident rate was added to the Terwilliger Lodge and Swaim Lodge fee schedules to account for increasing maintenance costs. The addition of the non-resident rate had minimal impact on the number of lodge reservations throughout the year.
Over the past several years, an increasing number of non-residents have utilized park shelters resulting in lack of availability for residents and unsustainable maintenance schedules. Starting in 2014, non-residents were no longer permitted to reserve park shelters. As a result, maintenance and cleaning costs have been reduced and residents now have exclusive priority.
The Montgomery Bulletin was updated in 2014 with a fresh new color design. In addition to the new design, the City was able to cut the printing and design costs by more than $59,000 per year making it an even better value to the community.
Volunteer needs began in January 2014 with holiday decoration takedown and continued throughout the year. In April, volunteers assisted with basket planting, the Arbor Day seedling bag and tag project and tax office activities. In May, 50 volunteers participated in Beautification Day which was especially appreciated due to the inclement weather. During two weeks in June, 37 volunteers helped make Safety Village a success for the future citizens of Montgomery. In July, volunteers contributed hundreds of hours towards the success of the July 3 concert, July 4th festivities and Bastille Day, making these events some of the most successful events to date. The year was rounded out with DogFest, Harvest Moon Festival, Holiday Decorating Day and Holiday in the Village. In addition to all of these special events, volunteers also helped out with the Butterfly Garden, the Volunteer Dinner, various front desk coverage needs, office tasks and the monthly cardboard recycling project.
In 2014, more than 430 volunteers donated 5,526 hours of service to the community. This represents a dollar value of $110,526. On April 23, 2014, the Volunteer Walk of Fame was dedicated honoring 41 volunteers. This brick path, located in Montgomery Park, was created to recognize volunteers who have made substantial contributions to the City through their volunteer service.
The City of Montgomery continues to enhance its technology infrastructure to ensure seamless and reliable operations. One of the most significant projects of 2014 was the partnership between the City and Sycamore Community Schools to expand each organization’s wide area network by connecting City Hall and the Public Works facility to the Sycamore Community Schools network via fiber optic cable. This project provides the public works department a high speed connection to the entire City network and sets the stage for future collaborative projects such as a shared telephone system, network resource sharing, and expansion of Wi-Fi access to students among other projects that have yet to be imagined. A majority of the fiber optic installation took place on Montgomery Road which provided the added benefit of expanding the existing fiber optic connection from the Safety Center to City Hall, providing a head start for the fiber optic traffic signal project scheduled for 2016.
The network connection between the Safety Center and the Montgomery Community Pool was upgraded to increase speed, efficiency and security. In addition, the new connection conforms to modern security standards which allow the pool to utilize computerized point-of-sale and product inventory systems.
The final technology project for 2104 was upgraded Wi-Fi service at Terwilliger Lodge, Swaim Lodge and the Montgomery Community Pool. These upgrades allow for remote maintenance and troubleshooting along with a more reliable signal.