Today, I had the honor of presenting to Council a brief State of the Organization report – a sort of check-in with them on how I think the organization is doing. I am pleased to say that the State of the Organization is good, and I can say without reservation it is so, due to the 1,700 employees that show up every day to get done what needs to get done. We are not a perfect organization, but we are a strong organization that has accomplished amazing things in the midst of some of the most trying times ever faced by this City.
What Has the Organization Accomplished?
In the face of the greatest public health emergency in more than 100 years, we were able to continue to provide our community with essential services without interruption. At one point, the Year 2020 saw three active local states of emergency at nearly the same time! While some on our staff were able to perform their essential services virtually, most continued to report in person to perform their duties.
That’s because trash isn’t picked up virtually, fires aren’t put out virtually, streets are not repaired virtually, and parks are not mowed virtually. Tens of thousands of calls for service were handled by our E-911 dispatchers and responded to by our Fire and Police personnel. Tens of thousands of tons of refuse was collected and disposed of by our sanitation workers. Computers and vehicles were still purchased and put into service. Municipal facilities were still cleaned and maintained by City personnel. Fire Station #7 is nearing completion. A new Communications Center for our E911 staff was opened. The Gainsboro Branch Library is undergoing a refresh. Public Art has been installed, virtual library events have been held, virtual recreation programs have been hosted, and virtual learning has been supported. Millions of dollars have been provided to individuals, families, and small businesses to help them deal with the impacts of the virus.
Employees too have had to balance their family obligations as their children attended school and as they themselves, at times, had to isolate due to COVID-positive tests or related to a close contact with someone that had tested positive. Still – all essential services continued to be delivered without interruption.
There are too many exemplary employees to name in this blog but, suffice it to say, there are hundreds that have not only shown up to their jobs but that have shown increased creativity, determination, and commitment. For their actions, our Star City is stronger and ready to take on whatever 2021 may have in store. Even in the midst of the pandemic, this dedication by our employees has yielded dozens of awards, recognitions, and accolades from local, state, and national organizations. During this time of turmoil, major policy actions were prepared for Council action that will benefit the community for decades – items such as City Plan 2040 and the formation of the Equity and Empowerment Advisory Board are but two examples. Major new initiatives were undertaken that will have positive impacts for our resident’s health, safety and well-being. The Financial Empowerment Center, Pedestrian Safety Campaign, and the Roanoke Police Department’s alignment to combat recent violent crime spikes are but a few such examples.
The exemplary service of our employees is deserving of acknowledgment and gratitude. It is for that reason back in September, I sought and Council approved both hazard pay for our public safety personnel and a gratitude bonus for our other employees. Today, I once again have requested and Council has agreed to provide a second gratitude bonus for our employees. This bonus is accompanied by actions including an additional annual Holiday (Juneteenth), greater flexibility in the use of floating holidays, extension of leave options for those required to care for a family member due to COVID, and additional leave options for those required to isolate or quarantine due to work-related exposure to COVID.
These are fitting actions in light of the work done this year under very trying circumstances. I am truly grateful to lead such a great group of dedicated employees working in the public’s interest, and for a Mayor and Council that demonstrate their support in tangible and meaningful ways.
Indeed, the State of our Organization is strong and, therefore, so is our Star City!