Management in Action: Joe Warren, Director of Administrative Services for the City of Atchison

What does city/county management mean to you?

City management means doing the work necessary to help residents get the most from their tax dollars. It means being strategic and intentional in your actions, professional and courteous in your dealings and setting a standard that city workers, leaders and residents can take pride in and strive for on a daily basis.

What does a successful improvement or project look like?

A successful improvement or project can take many forms, but at its simplest, is the resident getting increased benefit? Are processes more efficient, stretching tax dollars further? Is quality of life improved? It’s important to remember that people work hard for their money, and don’t have a choice to pay taxes. We must do our best to put revenues to use for our taxpayers.

What is one improvement (operational, policy or physical) that you are most proud of?

We’ve launched an initiative here called REDO Atchison. REDO is an acronym for Rehabilitation, Enforcement, Demolition and Occupation. It is a Community Development-based initiative that focuses on improving the quality of housing stock in the community – which is intended to eventually lead to property value growth. Our community has been stagnant when it comes to property values with an aging housing stock. We face real barriers to development – construction costs, and even rehabilitation costs at times, are too high compared to property values. REDO is designed to stabilize neighborhoods, address blight, prevent housing decay and in the long run spur future housing development. We’re a year into this initiative and early returns are promising.

If you could share one piece of career related wisdom to a colleague, what would it be?

I’m fairly new to this career field but one thing I’ve learned as an executive is that you are only as good as your team. Surround yourself with a good staff and invest in that staff – both personally and professionally. That investment will repay itself 10-fold. The quality of a leader is directly proportional to the quality of the team. I don’t know who said it first, but it really is true that it’s amazing what you can accomplish if you don’t care who gets the credit.