City looking to add high-level tech department

By Josh Ellerbrock -

LIMA — To take advantage of rapid changes in digital technologies, the City of Lima is pushing for the establishment of a new department, to be called the Department of Technology and Innovation, that would provide enterprise level solutions to improve the city’s services.

If approved by Lima City Council, the department would be led by a newly-created appointed position, the Chief Technology Officer. The estimated annual salary for the position would range from $80,000 to $90,000 — an annual salary that would “attract qualified candidates.”

“This person would be responsible for overseeing all the tech aspects of the city’s organization,” Chief of Staff Sharetta Smith said. “Our essential model is service, and so we’ve been stepping through that process, looking at each of our departments, our processes, our workflows and even to some degree, our staffing, in order to get better at what we do.”

A successful chief technology officer would serve as a technology consultant to the city’s other departments and would be responsible for creating an overall informational technology strategy that would better serve the residents of Lima, Smith said.

Aligning with Lima’s Smart City Initiative, the city has recently undertaken a number of technology-centric projects such as implementation of a new fuel management system, equipping police officers with body cameras, digital metering, upgrading the city’s service request portal and redesigning the city website. The new position would help push these projects forward.

Lima City Council will need to approve the creation of the position and department, but because the position would be unclassified, the mayor could appoint someone to the position without review by the Civil Service Board.

The city currently has 10 unclassified positions with one unfilled — the secretary to the mayor. The creation of the chief technology officer position would be the 11th city position the mayor could appoint without review.

Informational technology services are currently provided by the city’s data services group, which is organized under the utilities director. The group was responsible for allowing online payments for water billing.

The city also works with consultant Berry Melvin, a program director employed by Utility Metering Solutions, to lead the City of Lima’s Smart City initiative.

Smith said creation of such a position would push Lima ahead of the curve when dealing with the implementation of digital technologies to improve government services for cities of a similar size.

“This is very forward thinking, very innovative,” Smith said. “We’re right there in line with what other cities are doing all across the country. If we want to provide opportunities for economic development, we have to make moves like this. If we want to make our city attractive to millennials, we have to make moves like this. We’re using technologies to show how cities govern, and we’re walking down the road to figure out the growth of digital technology and how we provide services.”

By Josh Ellerbrock

Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.

Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.

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