Halfway between Birmingham and Atlanta, the City of Anniston, Alabama is a vibrant, picturesque, and historic city in the extreme southwest Appalachian foothills. Its comfortable climate, relaxed lifestyle, bountiful recreational opportunities, and modest cost of living promise healthy and happy lives for its 23,000 current and many future residents.
As the seat of government in Calhoun County, Anniston is a regional center for commerce, health care, legal, and government services. A Social Security Office, the County Human Resources Office, a Federal and County Courthouse, two general hospitals serving six counties, several clinics, and branch campuses of Gadsden State Community College and Jacksonville State University are domiciled in Anniston. The city’s historic downtown is in the midst of a significant revival; and a city-wide Strategic Plan is currently underway.
Anniston is a full service municipality with a $35M annual budget. The city’s 90 officer police force is well equipped and the newly built 55,000 square foot Justin Solohub Justice Center accommodates the Police Department, Municipal Court and Jail. Anniston’s 80 member Fire Department has an ISO rating of 3, among the best in the state. Only 653 out of the nation’s total of 47,242 Fire Departments have an ISO rating higher.
Anniston offers numerous recreational opportunities for both residents and visitors. In fact, the city leads the state in per capita spending for parks and recreation. The list of activities and facilities is long: a general civic meeting center facility, a senior citizens activity center, two golf courses, several sports complexes (i.e.: soccer, softball, baseball, track, tennis), an indoor aquatics and fitness center, two outdoor swimming pools, a splash pad, five full-service neighborhood indoor recreation centers, a library (main, branch, and bookmobile), and numerous neighborhood parks are available for everyday use by residents.
Visitors come to Anniston from all over the country to tour the Anniston Museum of Natural History, the Berman Museum of World History, Long Leaf Botanical Gardens, the Coldwater Mountain Bike Trail, and the western terminus of the Chief Ladiga / Silver Comet bike trail (Anniston to Atlanta). They often arrive by passenger train at Anniston’s multi-modal bus and AmTrac station or by plane at the Anniston Regional Airport, which has a 7,000 foot heavy duty runway to accommodate all the big commercial jets and the Army’s heaviest cargo planes. Among the many communal activities on Anniston’s annual calendar are well known 5K runs, bicycle races, downtown festivals, golf tournaments, concerts, and repertory theater productions.
Anniston was incorporated in 1873-- named “Annie’s Town” after Annie Scott Tyler, wife of General Daniel Tyler, one of the town’s founders and half-owner, with Samuel Noble, of the Woodstock Iron Company. The roots of Anniston’s economy are in iron, steel, and pipe clay until the twentieth century when the US Army presence became a dominant characteristic. Fort McClellan was established during WWI and the Anniston Army Depot was added on the other side of town during WWII. Anniston also has a place worth remembering in Civil Rights history. “The fort” was decommissioned in 1995 and is now being marketed by the McClellan Development Authority. The McClellan Master Development Plan defines sites for residential, recreational, commercial, industrial, and civic uses. Today Anniston’s economy is diversified, with tourism, particularly eco-tourism, as a major focus.
Anniston’s population has declined over the years and stands now at 23,106 according to the 2010 US Census. Median age for its residents is 41.3 years. Males constitute 46.1% of the population; females 53.9%. The largest racial groups are whites at 44.7% and African Americans at 51.5%. Further, 5,841 families (with own children) occupy 9,904 of the city’s 11,599 housing units. The average household size in Anniston is 2.23 persons.
Like most communities in the nation today, Anniston is slowly emerging from the “great recession.” Most observers expect economic conditions in Anniston and the east-central region of the state to improve in coming years. A big contributor to that is the 5.6% increase in population in the County over the past decade (from 112,249 to 113,252, even as Anniston itself lost some residents. Calhoun County’s GDP increased by nearly 4% in 2010 and at $173 billion is now above pre-recession levels. Partial credit should be given to several healthy industrial operations (e.g.: NABI) and a resilient Army Depot. Using US Bureau of Labor statistics data, economists at Jacksonville State University show a March 2013 revised and seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 7.2% for Alabama, lowest in the southeast US. Further, Calhoun County’s unemployment rate has declined continuously since 2010 as median incomes for Calhoun County households increased from $31,814 in 2000 to $36,700 in 2010.
Anniston City Government
Anniston is governed by a five-member council composed of a Mayor elected at large and four members representing wards of approximately equal population. The current members of the council were all newly elected last fall. A council appointed City Manager guides day-to-day operations, hires, promotes, disciplines, and fires staff, and determines salaries within the rules adopted by the legislature as Act 1953-404 (amended in 2000). The law is codified as Title 45, Chapter 8A, Article 2 of the Code of Alabama. Therein, the council is empowered to:
Appoint and remove the City Manager,
Establish administrative departments and distribute the work of divisions,
Adopt the budget of the city,
Authorize the issuance of bonds or warrants,
Inquire into the conduct of any office, board, department, or agency of the city and make investigations as to municipal affairs, and
Appoint the members of all boards, commissions, or other bodies authorized hereunder or by law.
The Mayor has some additional duties related to long term planning and priority setting. The same law specifies the duties and authority of the City Manager. He or she must:
Enforce all laws and ordinances;
Appoint and, when necessary…, remove all officers and employees of the city [with some exceptions];
Exercise administrative supervision and control over all officers, employees, offices, departments, boards, and agencies created by this part;
Keep the council fully advised as to the financial conditions and needs of the city; to prepare and submit the budget proposal annually, and to prepare and submit as of the end of the fiscal year a complete report;
Recommend to the council such actions as he or she may deem desirable;
Prepare and submit… reports as may be required…;
Perform such other duties as may be prescribed… by ordinance or resolution….
Challenges and Opportunities
Among the challenges faced by the incoming Manager are arresting the decline in population, addressing crucial needs like housing improvement and blight eradication, stimulating development in the core downtown area and elsewhere, maintaining and improving critical infrastructure, improving education, expanding employment opportunities, and reducing crime. The council is determined to adopt a skillfully drafted, constituent driven Strategic Plan and has selected a nationally known consulting firm to guide that process; but the new City Manager will face some enormous social challenges.
Among the opportunities available are significant new visitor attractions, recent large investments by the state in major highway construction, major retail development projects on land controlled by the city and other places along the US-431 corridor, and hundreds of acres of underdeveloped land managed by the McClellan Development Authority on land formerly occupied by the US Army. The new City Manager will have an opportunity to facilitate monumental economic change in the city.
The Ideal Candidate
The ideal candidate will be a progressive consensus builder. He or she will be a partner and advisor to council members, while recognizing that he or she works for them, implementing their policies derived from the adopted Strategic Plan and the adopted five year Capital Improvements Plan (required by the Council / Manager Act) and other council mandates.
An acceptable candidate will be decisive but not confrontational, able to say no and to articulate the reasons why in a diplomatic way when necessary, be politically savvy but not be political. Outstanding customer service will be important to the manager, as will staff accountability. While the individual will not be a micromanager, he or she will know what is going on in the organization. She or he will be proactive in seeking to increase productivity, accountability, cooperation, and teamwork among employees within the constraints of Anniston’s civil service rules. The ability to communicate well with a diverse constituency is a key characteristic.
Provisions of the Position
Required Education and Experience. A Bachelor’s Degree in public administration, business administration, or a closely related field is required. A Master of Public Administration Degree is preferred. To be considered, a candidate must also have a minimum of five year’s progressively increasing executive responsibility in a local government administrative position. Experience as a chief administrative official in a local government of comparable size to Anniston or larger than Anniston is highly desirable. Experience in finance, economic development, regionalism, tourism promotion, community revitalization, and criminal justice is also desirable. The selected individual will be expected to reside in the city during his or her tenure.
Compensation and Terms. The salary range for the position is $90,000 to $120,000 depending upon a candidate’s qualifications. Compensation may also include a reasonable car allowance. The city offers a generous benefits package including participation in the Retirement System of Alabama. The city will offer a three year renewable contract derived from the ICMA model agreement.
Selection Process. Candidates should submit a detailed resume and cover letter before June 14, 2013 including full contact information on at least five professional references. Following ICMA guidelines, the council will review all applications and invite a short list of candidates to be interviewed in Anniston. References of these candidates will be checked. If, after the initial interviews, there are still candidates that the council would like to consider, they may conduct a second, more in-depth interview session. The final choice of the council will be subject to a thorough criminal and financial background check before a contract is negotiated. This check may involve contact with individuals in the candidate’s current community. A member selected by the council, assisted by the city attorney will then negotiate the terms of the employment agreement.
Recruitment announcements by May 20th
Receive Resumes until June 14th
Resume’ review 6-17 through 7-8
Interview invitations to “short list” candidates on July 12th
Initial interview sessions 7-15 through 7-19
Contract negotiated by July 26th
Contract executed at Special Session on July 30th
Candidate assumes duty no later than August 30th
Anniston is an Equal Opportunity Employer and embraces diversity. Women and minorities are encouraged to apply. Under the Alabama Open Records law, all applications are subject to disclosure upon receipt.
Resumes and materials must be submitted as PDF documents attached to an email message. Material submitted in hard copies or by fax will not be considered.
Address submissions to: CityCouncil@AnnistonAL.gov