Member Spotlight on Sandy, OR

“We have found the webinars and other materials put out by the Alliance to be among the best available and becoming a member will give us easier access to these resources. We are always looking for new ways of doing things, and the Alliance offers a great opportunity to network with innovative cities.” - Scott Lazenby, City Manager, Sandy, OR

ARTICLE | Jul 2, 2010

The City of Sandy, OR has a population of 8,205 and operates its own (free fare) transit system and a municipal ISP, SandyNet. It manages its own Urban Growth Boundary and has created a number of tools to protect the environment and improve livability: a dark sky ordinance; neighborhood park dedication requirements; reuse of treated wastewater as irrigation at a large ornamental plant nursery; and an urban forestry program.

The City is completely paperless in many areas such as, the official (and only) version of the Municipal Code and council packets are web based versions only. The budget “document” is fully web-based (active server pages accessing a live database) rather than the print-oriented pdf versions used by most local governments.  Public meetings are streamed live on the Internet and summary minutes link directly to archived video files.

To provide a wide variety of quality services with a very limited budget and staff, the city has resorted to a number of innovative management practices. It uses an “Aikido Budget System” (see http://www.orcities.org/portals/17/a-z/aikidobudgetmanual.pdf) where operating managers carry forward 100% of any budget savings, revenues are allocated directly to departments, managers are accountable for the bottom line rather than an appropriations limit, bottom line budget targets are set at the outset of the process rather than having departments submit budget “requests” that exceed available resources, and a true 24-month biennial budget period is used. Annual employee performance reviews and job descriptions have been abandoned in favor of frequent and direct feedback on goals and a competency-based pay classification system. And Sandy has achieved 95% of the benefit of a full performance measurement/benchmarking program at only 5% of the cost by using data-free analysis (the “Sandy Benchmarking System”).

Until recently, Sandy’s primary challenge has been rapid population growth due to the city’s proximity to both Portland and the spectacular Mt. Hood/Sandy River recreation areas. Other challenges include an increasing list of state mandates and preemptions and strange weather (like the economy, we talk a lot about the weather, but unlike the economy, we don’t pretend we can do anything about it).

 “We have found the webinars and other materials put out by the Alliance to be among the best available and becoming a member will give us easier access to these resources. We are always looking for new ways of doing things, and the Alliance offers a great opportunity to network with innovative cities," says City Manager Scott Lazenby. 

“For me, Sandy is the city manager’s dream job. It is in a gorgeous setting (one of the attached photos is from my bedroom window), it has a tradition of strong civic infrastructure, and the members of the city council have always been community-spirited, willing to experiment and innovate, and very respectful of each other, staff, and members of the public.”

 

For more information, email slazenby@ci.sandy.or.us

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