After an extensive application process and thorough interview process, Sean Scully was selected to serve as the new city manager for Riverbank. Settling in to a new office in a role that he is familiar with, but now for a new city, Scully attended his first Riverbank City Council meeting in January and has rolled up his sleeves to dig in to the business at hand.
Growing up in the suburbs of Sacramento, Scully went to college in Monterey and his first job was for the City of Turlock. His most recent position was city manager in Gustine. His wife is from Oakdale so he is very familiar with this area. He was not looking for a job when the opportunity for the city manager for Riverbank first arose but after lengthy discussion with his wife, he decided to apply.
“The most important things about this position for any city manager is, how do you like your council and how do you think you are going to be able to work with them and what kind of group are they and how do they get along with one another,” said Scully. “I sort of felt immediately connected with them, their ambition, their goals, the kinds of things like clearly how much they not only care about their community but they really care about their staff and really like their team they have here.”
Scully is adjusting to his new environment, colleagues, and culture of the city and plans to sit down with each city staff member to get them to know them a little bit better as they also get to know him.
“Every community has different norms and different little procedures that they like to have during their council meetings,” stated Scully. “They are all sort of similar but then there are things that are different from city to city.
“I was still adjusting to the specific things that Riverbank likes to do at their meetings, but it (first city council meeting) was fine.”
During the recruitment process, Scully explained that the city council was very clear on what their priorities are and priority one above everything else is financial sustainability.
“Our situation is going to take more time and there are a number of reasons for that but most important I think is making sure that we are being responsible with the spending of the public dollar,” Scully explained. “So the problem is that every year the cost to run your business or your organization gets more expensive but your revenues don’t necessarily grow in the same way.
“We have to become creative and one of the things that I promised the council that we are going to dedicate ourselves to, is figure out creative ways to improve our services without breaking the bank.”
Priority number one is to recover financially and secondly is important projects like the transfer of the Riverbank Industrial Complex, and making progress on Crossroads West. The city has a number of developments that are currently in build so another priority for Scully is staying up on the new housing needs. He would like to make sure that Riverbank’s interests are represented fairly on the North County Corridor project. Another topic of interest that the council has shared with him is creating new life to the downtown area. With a number of projects and priorities Scully has a full plate and is ready to get to work.
“I think what is most important to me is that they (community) understand that one of my number one priorities is to be available to them and obviously the nature of this job is that you are pretty busy a lot of the time but with that said there is always time to meet with the community,” Scully said. “I think that I can be inordinately more successful the more that they are interested in sitting down with me and being honest about what their opinions on things are, whether or not we end up agreeing it is better than us assuming what folks are saying.”
Open communication, he expressed, is key.
“That makes me a better city manager; being able to actually communicate with the public on a consistent basis about what is going on,” noted Scully. “The way I like to put it is, it helps eliminate the blind spots you otherwise have.”