Interim city manager more impressed the more she learns

Phil Castle, The Business Times

Andrea Phillips

Andrea Phillips is enrolled in something of a crash course on the operations of the City of Grand Junction and the various partners with which the city works.

Since she started working as interim city manager on April 8, Phillips said she’s met with city staff, community leaders and residents. She asked a lot of questions and focused on the answers.

“I’m really trying to listen,” she said during a sit-down interview with the Business Times at Grand Junction City Hall.

Phillips said she was attracted to Grand Junction in part because of the programs, projects and other efforts under way to address various issues.“Grand Junction seems to be on the cutting edge of a lot of things.”

Less than two months into her new job, she said the city has lived up to that billing and then some. “I’m actually more impressed every day.”

Phillips succeeds Greg Caton, who resigned earlier this year after working eight years as Grand Junction city manager. Caton was selected as assistant city manager for the City of Scottsdale, Ariz.

A search will be conducted for a permanent city manager in Grand Junction. Phillips said she won’t be involved in that process, but likely will apply for the position.

Phillips brings to her role as interim manager experience as manager of the Town of Pagosa Spings for six years and manager of the Town of Mancos for four years. Before moving to southwest Colorado, she held positions in the finance department for the City of Columbus in Ohio.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from the  University  of  Colorado  and master’s  degree  in  public policy and management from Ohio State University. She also holds designation as a certified public manager from the International City/County Management Association, an organization of local government professionals.

Working in Mancos and then Pagosa Springs, Phillips said she was familiar with Grand Junction as a regional hub as well as a place in which projects and initiatives promote economic development and  address issues.

She said she also was aware of the reputation of the City of Grand Junction to collaborate with a variety of partners on various efforts. She said she considers a herself a collaborative person who understands the importance of partnerships and building relationships.

As interim city manager, Phillips said she reports to the Grand Junction City Council. Phillips said she’s responsible for the day-to-day operations of a municipal government with an annual budget of nearly $400 million and the equivalent of 860 full-time employees. She also said she works with city directors who oversee various functions. “I have a really great leadership team.”

While Grand Junction constitutes a larger community than Pagosa Springs or Mancos. Phillips said many of the basic functions of city government are the same in operating fire and police departments, maintaining infrastructure and providing parks and recreation.

Similar issues present similar challenges, she said, including the cost and availability of housing. That’s an issue that affects businesses and their ability to recruit and retain employees.

Phillips said there’s an important relationship between city government and businesses. The city maintains infrastructure and provides services to  create a safe and attractive environment, while businesses activities generate tax revenues. “We certainly need each other.”

And what’s something of a crash course on the operations of the City of Grand Junction continues for Phillips. “I’m really enjoying it so far and learning a lot.”