By Sarah Chacko
Killeen Daily Herald
As outgoing City Manager David Blackburn prepares for a whole new ballgame in Temple, Acting City Manager Connie Green is dusting off the dirt and stepping up to the plate.
Though Blackburn, who is leaving Killeen to fill the same position in Temple, will be taking vacation time until his official resignation date April 22, Green said the departing city manager will be available while on leave.
My initial impression (of the position) is that its big, exciting and demanding, Green said.
But thats what Green said he was expecting, so hes prepared to face the challenges ahead the first being the upcoming budget process, which is already on the forefront of everyones agenda.
Luckily, Greens 15-year experience as finance director has made the process a little less overwhelming. The council is used to working with Green during the process, and Green is definitely used to crunching city figures.
I want to make sure the expectations of the council and residents are met this year, he said. I wont use the excuse of there not being a permanent city manager.
But the budget wont be a breeze, even for Green.
He said this year trying to manage all the priorities of the largest capital improvement project package within the constraints of the available resources will be a challenge.
While Green said setting budget priorities is mainly a matter for the council, officials also face setting the tax rate and managing development needs for the city.
Mr. Blackburn left us with a full plate, he said.
Blackburn said the almost daily discussions with Green on a variety of topics that are both deep and broad in scope really started after he accepted the Temple position and is something they will be working on for the next several weeks.
He said the fact that the transition isnt happening overnight is what will keep it seamless.
I dont think hell skip a beat, Blackburn said.
Green, 43, came to Killeen in 1979 from Cameron to attend Central Texas College and graduated from the University of Central Texas in 1983 with a bachelors degree in accounting.
His first job out of college where he said he learned the lessons of fiscal responsibility firsthand was with local certified public accountant Dan Corbin.
Councilman Corbin said that the things that impressed him most about Green when he hired him out of college was his confidence and eagerness to learn.
I think those have served him well throughout his acc-ounting career and will in management, Corbin said.
He stayed with Corbins firm for seven years six of which were after it was sold to Lott Vernon & Co.
Green said that many of the companys clients were in city government, and that is where he received much of his knowledge on city organizations.
It convinced me that a career in government is what I wanted to do, he said.
In 1990, Green became Beltons finance director. That same year, Killeens finance director, Dan Bray, decided to retire.
Similar to the decision it faced on March 14 when the council appointed an interim city manager, Green said the council was looking for someone who was familiar with city operations who could hit the ground running.
Green ended up being the person they were looking for.
Green, 28 at the time, said he was grateful for the councils confidence in his ability to manage the citys financial affairs.
The council told Green that its objective was to be financially independent.
We wanted to stand on our own two feet despite what was going on with the state or national economy, he said.
Green said the city has met that objective and has become one of the highest rated cities by bond agencies and strengthened all fund areas.
The Killeen that Green walked into was facing the challenge of troop deployments. The citys new obstacle how to handle future growth is what Green calls the cup runneth over challenge.
I dont have any doubt that were going to be able to work with that, Green said. Everyone from the mayor and council to the city staff and residents are up to that task.
Sometime between late 2000 and early 2001 Green was given the title of assistant city manager; recent restructuring made him the assistant city manager of administrative services.
Councilman Fred Latham said he thinks the transition will go well because during his time with Killeen, Green has acquired res-ponsibilities and duties that went beyond the finance department.
As assistant city manager of administrative services, Green continued his role as finance director and was given responsibility over the utility collections and general services divisions, as well as the human resources and information technology departments.
Corbin said that Greens involvement with the city has kept him in the loop for the last several years.
Hes aware of the issues. Hes aware of the history, Corbin said. He is capable for steering the staff in the right direction.
Corbin said Green has also developed a good relationship of faith and trust with the council members, which will help both sides.
Green said his 15 years with the city not only makes him familiar with the council and staff but other organizations within Killeen, such as the school district, college and water department.
I am no stranger to any of those organizations, Green said. They know me by name.
Green said hes also had the opportunity to work closely with leaders from neighboring cities, like Copperas Cove and Harker Heights, not to mention having a very close relationship with the new Temple city manager.
Green stresses that though he is moving into a new role, his work with the city is going to be a partnership.
I am not going to be the lone wolf on any project, he said. No city can depend on any one individual. Its a team effort.
In areas that Blackburn has been notably successful such as working with the citys legislative agenda and with Fort Hood officials Latham said that Green may not have been there on a monthly or weekly basis, but they are areas he can progress in, especially with the citys support.
No one person is going to have to do everything, Latham said. Everyone of us is going to lend a hand and help.
Green said he is already actively tracking the progress of the citys state and federal legislative agenda, meeting with lobbyists and establishing a dialogue with officials.
Since it is a top priority, hes asked the council and staff to help in the process.
Green said good rapport among the citys top officials is evident in councilmen Scott Cosper and Eddie Vale Jr.s trip to Washington, D.C., with Blackburn and Mayor Maureen Jouett.
That type of partnership between the council and staff is the type we need to be effective so nothing slips through the cracks, Green said.
Though Green said the selection process for a permanent city manager will be led by the council, he will not be approaching the position as a part-time or temporary assignment.
Green said he asked the council for the ability to act as the city manager during his employment as interim.
The playing field is clearly defined, he said. Im going to be acting like a city manager until someone tells me to stop.
Contact Sarah Chacko at email@example.com