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A day in the life of... city managers

December 29, 2012
By Zach Kukkonen ( , The Daily Mining Gazette

Editor's note: This article is part of a series looking at the day-to-day lives of local people in various professions.

HANCOCK - After managing local villages and cities for the past 30-plus years, Glenn Anderson's favorite part of the job continues to be the people.

"The public interaction, the opportunity to meet thousands of people a year - both city residents and outside the city - that's the most interesting part of the job," said Hancock's current city manager.

Article Photos

Daily Mining Gazette/Kurt Hauglie
Hancock City Manager Glenn Anderson points out two city-owned lots from an aerial photograph at a 2011 meeting of the city council.

Managing cities or villages is a complex job, as Anderson must balance a number of different occupational tenets from day to day.

"You implement city council goals and policies, you oversee the day-to-day operation of the city, you oversee the budget process and you're also the grant administrator, seeking out and finding available grants," Anderson said.

Finding grants has become an increasingly vital portion of the job, Anderson said, especially with the decreasing funds coming from the state.

"That's become an important part of the job," he said. "Budget revenues have been shrinking and we're doing more with less. We still have to accomplish the core mission of water, sewer, roads, snow removal, recreation, police and fire, and as money's become tighter, it's a challenge to maintain the quality of your services."

Houghton City Manager Scott MacInnes has dealt with many of the same issues since he took the job in 1997. MacInnes has actually been with the city since 1974, working his way up from recreation director, and certainly understands the complications involved with the job.

"You deal with pretty much everything - the entire management of the city between everything from public works to police," MacInnes said.

Much of the manager's job on a daily basis involves a mix of handling any problems that may arise and administrative work, according to MacInnes.

"About half my day is solving ... problems that come up during the day, and the other half is spent on grants and planning," he said.

Perhaps the most complex part of his duties are keeping everyone on the same track.

"A city manager's got to be a good mediator," MacInnes said. "You've got to get all parties, especially the city council, downtown development authority and others moving in the same direction, otherwise you're in trouble."

Much like Anderson, grants play a large part in his role - one MacInnes used to relish as assistant city manager - but acquiring grants has become harder.

"That's been where I've spend a lot of my time and that's where a lot of my expertise is," MacInnes said. "However, that world is getting more and more difficult, as less money is available and the amount of work to get that money has significantly increased."

Yet when a grant does go through, it's quite rewarding, MacInnes said.

"You start a project from its inception and you work through the financial aspects of the project, and finally it gets constructed," he said.

Both Anderson and MacInnes enjoy having universities nearby - being in charge of "town and gown communities," as Anderson puts it - as it adds to the feel of the community.

"That's the neat thing about Houghton - it's such a diverse community," MacInnes said. "I enjoy meeting people and working with them, especially at the university. We have a lot of things going on with different aspects of the university and we enjoy that relationship."



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