Susan McLaughlin becomes city administrator
February 12, 2013 by Marla Blair, A city the size of Lincoln is big enough to attract attention and court possibilities; small enough to claim simplicity and tout stories from the past. The big side provides services, attracts new business and registers success by the numbers. The small side is proud of the fire and police departments, talks about the Christmas parade in July and tapes high school banners to its windows. To insure that everything can continue there has to be leadership and coordination with everyone‘s best interest at heart. That’s why the Lincoln city council hired a city manager. To pull it all together.
Susan McLaughlin, Lincoln City Manager, was hired on a temporary basis for a term of February 4 through April 30, 2013. The temporary status is due to the upcoming election and will be taken under consideration in accordance with the outcome of the mayor’s race.
Ms. McLaughlin’s review of Lincoln’s administrative team resulted in positive commentary.
“Kudos to the mayor for being progressive in his first term,” she stated, “and to the city council for taking issues under consideration with determination to make the best possible decision.”
If everyone is doing such fine job, why does the city need a city administrator? Isn’t it a duplication of the mayor’s position? “Not at all,” McLaughlin said.
“The mayor’s heart and energy goes into governing the city,” she explained, “but he is not professionally educated in city government. There are financial system rules and regulations to abide by and those are different from other regulatory guidelines.
“Water and sewer are in the enterprise fund; fire and police are from another fund,” McLaughlin continued, “and each area has its own set of requirements.
“A city the size of Lincoln or larger needs someone here day-to-day at the helm of the ship to coordinate the departments,” she said. “City management is a specialty.”
Are the titles ‘city administrator’ and ‘city manager’ interchangeable or are they separate positions?
“They are two distinctly different positions with their own set of responsibilities,” McLaughlin explained. “A city manager is a statutory form of government. He/she can hire and fire personnel and make other decisions without city council authority.
“A city administrator can make suggestions and recommendations, but there is still a mayor and city council form of government,” Susan McLaughlin concluded. “City council is an advisory board that sets policy and the administrator is here to coordinate the activity.”
McLaughlin will also oversee the budget, as the city’s fiscal year comes to an end on April 30. This week she is conducting preliminary meetings with aldermen to discuss priorities and note similarities. She will utilize the information gleaned from those discussions to assist in creating a budget for the new fiscal year. In the mean time, McLaughlin is visiting departments and becoming acquainted with supervisors.
“I would also like to initiate strategic planning, to help the council define goals and implement a plan of action for the next few years,” McLaughlin added. “The plan can change if it has to, but goals will offer the council some direction.”
Susan McLaughlin graduated from Illinois State University, Normal, with a Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications, and received a Master of Public Administration - Urban Management track from Northern Illinois University, DeKalb.
Her experience includes legal assistant for the City of Rockford; planning and zoning officer for Winnebago County; city/village administrator for the cities of Byron and Mattoon and village of North Aurora.
Aside from her formal education and experience, Susan brings other credentials to the position of city administrator for the City of Lincoln. She is President-Elect to the Illinois City Manager’s Association (ILCMA) for 2012-2013, in line to be President for June 2013 to June 2014. She is also on the Illinois Municipal League’s City Manager Committee.
“Obtaining accreditation as a city manager is similar to being a ‘CPA’,” McLaughlin stated. “It is becoming recognized as a standard for city managers. It sets standards for ongoing education in city management and gives me the right to have ‘I-CMA’ after my name.”
Susan McLaughlin’s son, Yates, almost 13, is named for a paternal ancestor, Illinois Governor Richard Yates. He is in the seventh grade in Mattoon and currently busy with basketball and band (drums). Susan was remarried in July, 2012, to Don Rodewald. They currently live in Mattoon. She commutes three days per week, but takes advantage of the convenience of a local hotel on meeting nights.
In the time she has initially been given, and maybe for longer, Susan McLaughlin intends to bring together the departments and functions of city government so the city of Lincoln moves forward with vision and plans for the future.