The Town-Crier has been asking questions each week to the six people seeking three seats on the Indian Trail Improvement District Board of Supervisors. This week’s question: How would you rate the current staff of the Indian Trail Improvement District? What changes, if any, would you like to see made regarding ITID’s staff or staffing policy? Candidates were then invited to answer a final summary question: Why should voters vote for you?
ITID SEAT 5
Betty Argue — The ITID staff has worked diligently in meeting the demands of the district in the past couple of years, all while a management reorganization took place. Jim Shallman, now at the helm as district manager, is working to prioritize projects at the direction of the supervisors. Issues brought to light by Tropical Storm Isaac have resulted in infrastructure improvements and a focus for future enhancements. Lessons learned from internal audits and inspections have resulted in changes to district policies and implementing procedures adding efficiency, accountability and transparency to district practices. Projects such as the Hamlin House and the walking/biking path on Cheetham Hill have been completed. Improvements have been made to parks, canals, swales and roads. The Acreage Community Park south expansion has begun. This has all been possible because of the skilled and dedicated staff of the Indian Trail Improvement District.
Our community is faced with growth and development that will have significant impacts on the works of the district. The ITID Board of Supervisors must provide the leadership necessary to make informed choices and set district priorities by refocusing on the rebuilding of our canals, swales and drainage systems, maintaining and protecting our parks, roads and water, all while being fiscally responsible. We should support the district manager in accomplishing these goals and objectives, and assist in breaking down barriers to success.
Campaign Summary: My legal, real estate and ombudsman experience lends itself to the role of ITID supervisor. In applying my leadership, fortitude and dedication, we will see the objectives through, consistent with the charter of the Indian Trail Improvement District. As your neighbor and fellow stakeholder, I am committed to hearing from all residents and will objectively represent your interests and concerns. With your help and vote, we will meet the challenges we face and improve our quality of life.
Carol Jacobs — The ITID Board of Supervisors needs to review and update all policies of the district starting first with all policies in reference to the maintenance department. I would like the operations and maintenance department to go back to zones and have everyone on that team accountable for their zone.
My thoughts have always been and always will be that the employees need the proper training and pass that training before they are placed in a position for the district. The district needs to hire qualified equipment operators; anyone can drive a piece of equipment, but not everyone is qualified to be an operator that is the first line of defense in safety. We need to use the district’s road engineer that we hired, not just the water engineer, and I have a big problem with the engineer not being on any of the district’s jobs overseeing the work. I have seen a few mistakes that a qualified engineer should have caught. If the engineer was overseeing all of the district jobs, the mistakes that have been made would be on his liability insurance to fix, and not the taxpayers’, which is what is happening now. The district needs to hire qualified people and do all work in house. ITID needs major restructuring of the operation and maintenance department as soon as possible.
Campaign Summary: A vote for me is a vote for common sense. I am a listener; I don’t Argue! I have been a very involved and fair board member. I didn’t just move here and become a U.S. citizen so I could run for ITID for my movement; a movement that consists of residents from Loxahatchee Grove, Royal Palm Beach and Palm Beach Gardens, to use your tax dollars to fund their lawsuit cause. This would destroy this district. The district’s funds should be used for improvements to the roads, drainage and parks. I am running for a third term for this very reason, to protect this district from this group that has one mission. This group that is running for ITID has fought against everything out here in The Acreage that we as residents have come to enjoy. I love The Acreage, and I will take care, as always, to make sure your tax dollars are spent wisely.
ITID SEAT 1
Mike Erickson — I truly believe we have an excellent pool of employees at ITID. The problem is not the employees, but rather, the culture and turnover that exists at ITID. Over the last 12 years, there has been an extreme turnover of upper staff and middle managers due mainly to political turnover. This environment of wondering if you’re going to get fired equates to a lack of staff empowerment. The board should be creating policies and budgets that help execute its vision for the community, rather than micromanaging operations. If elected, I will do everything in my power to create a board that makes policies that will empower staff to create a productive, efficient organization.
The board must create a long-term strategic plan with goals and a timeline. How can staff be expected to attain goals if they haven’t been given goals? As a board member, I will use the budget process to create accountability and direction. I will use a policy manual to create organization and limits on staff. Not only does staff need training, but the board should also be trained in policy governance. The board should be working on a vision for ITID, a real budget process, standards for everything ITID does and policies to execute them. The board can then leave daily operations to staff while they work on the bigger picture of creating a vision for our community.
Campaign Summary: I believe I am the best candidate because of my experience, common sense, knowledge and professionalism. Sitting on dozens of professional boards throughout my career has given me the experience and know-how to help the ITID board add additional professionalism to its meetings. Having the experience of growing a very successful corporation has given me the knowledge of organizational structure, budgeting and accountability, and how to bring those key components to ITID. I have the experience in public speaking to stand up and represent this community in a professional manner. If elected, I will push for the people to vote on the big issues rather than just the five board members making these decisions. If you vote for me, I will not let you or our community down. Learn more at www.mikeerickson.info.
Jennifer Hager — I believe ITID has a great team of employees in place. The key is that they be allowed to conduct the business and works of the district without outside interference or harassment from board members and non-employees. The district has a non-interference policy in place to prevent these types of situations. This is one area that I’d like to see be strongly reinforced.
Jim Shallman has been working toward efficiently running this district. Longtime staff members have been of great assistance to him in learning to run the district. I believe if we continue in this manner, productivity will continue to increase.
ITID staff had much to accomplish during a time of much transition and discord among employees. Mr. Shallman and his staff have managed to successfully overcome this discord to become the successful team that they are today. He has a good rapport, not only with his staff, but also with board members and our residents. He is effective in assigning tasks appropriately, and he responds as quickly as possible to most public and board requests.
A good leader takes his share of the blame, and less than his share of the credit. Mr. Shallman has taken much blame for things that were not his fault and very little credit for things that he has helped to remedy since being moved into his current position. Staff is now working steady, morale is up, and they have come together as a cohesive team under his direction and guidance.
Campaign Summary: It has been an honor and my privilege to serve our community for the past four years. I truly love living here in this diverse, beautiful place. As your chosen elected official, I will continue to listen to and serve the will of the people. Good leaders practice with actions and attitude, not with words that lead to empty or broken promises. I am morally driven and my values are clear; therefore, making decisions on behalf of the people is easy. I will continue to fight the good fight to protect our lifestyle. I am as good as my good word.
ITID SEAT 3
Ralph Bair — The current staff is a mix of new and experienced personnel. It’s up to the district administrator to shape and mold them into an effective workforce to take care of problems and better serve our district. That is why I preferred an experienced district administrator. It is up to the board to empower the administrator to hire skilled employees and to create policies to purchase appropriate equipment and training for our employees to be successful. In addition, the board has assigned our administrator to enroll in current management courses to enhance his management skills. He continues to work with legal, the human resources attorney and engineering to be proactive in solving problems relating to all phases of his job.
Once the administrator has been selected by the board, it is his task to work within the administrative budget to hire any additional staff and key personnel. There is an employee flow chart that is the administrator’s job to fill, and if it needs to be adjusted, it should be brought back to the board for review. It is also his job to implement policy set by the board. This task is to be accomplished with the staff and personnel he has hired and managed. If this is not met, it’s the board’s responsibility to hold him accountable.
Campaign Summary: I am the only candidate with 14 years of experience and the integrity to take The Acreage into the next decade as it deals with growth management. I have been consistent on my support for State Road 7’s completion, our parks and the road network through The Acreage. I am concerned about all the residents of our community, and try to make myself available to each resident and listen to concerns. Being a good listener allows me to exchange ideas and work with other agencies to benefit The Acreage. The Acreage is my priority; it is where I have lived for 35 years actively involved in our community, it is where I raised my children and where I plan on retiring.
Alan Ballweg — The ITID staff is managed by District Manager Jim Shallman. Jim’s appointment was approved unanimously by the board, and I approve that decision. He has made operations more transparent and open to the board, as well as to the public. Jim manages the staff and implements the policies, which have been developed over many years and which work well, for the most part. The professional staff includes our district engineer and district attorneys, all of whom have long experience with Indian Trail. Organizations tend to follow “the tone at the top,” and I believe Jim has been doing a good job both in setting the right tone, and in managing the myriad and complex details of the district.
Campaign Summary: Vote for me if you want someone who will fight to preserve our quality of life. I am strongly opposed to Minto West overdevelopment and helped found the “No To Minto” movement. I believe we do not want or need a city in the country. My education and experience is an excellent fit for the ITID board. I graduated from Stanford University with a degree in economics and engineering management, and have knowledge of finance, accounting, cost/benefit analysis, and an extensive technical knowledge of drainage and flood control systems. I support the inspector general, and I am in favor of aggressive action to protect The Acreage from being used as a doormat by developers. Read more about my positions at www.winwithalan.com.