W. Brian Hiatt
W. Brian Hiatt has served as Concord's City Manager since 1998. He came to Concord from Hickory where he served as Assistant City Manager for over 10 years. Brian holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in History and Government Service from Appalachian State University where he was a summa cum laude graduate, and a Master of Public Administration from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Active in the community, Brian serves as President of the Academic Learning Center and is on the Board of Directors for the Cabarrus Economic Development Corporation and the Water and Sewer Authority of Cabarrus County. He currently serves as Vice-Chairman of the Cabarrus County United Way Campaign. He is a Past-President of both the Concord Rotary Club, where he was named Rotarian of the Year in 2012, and the Lake Hickory Rotary Club. He is also a Past-President of the Board of Directors for United Way of Cabarrus County. In 2002, Brian served as the Chairman of the United Way Campaign in Cabarrus County. He is also a former board member of Hospice of Cabarrus County. He is currently the President of the North Carolina City and County Management Association. Brian was a member of the Board of Directors of the NC League of Municipalities from 2004 through 2008 and now serves on its General Government Legislative Action Committee. Having a desire to see young people better educated in government, Brian previously served as Chairman of the Civic Education Committee of the North Carolina City and County Managers Association and on the Steering Committee of the North Carolina Civic Education Consortium. He has also been recognized as a Credentialed City Manager by the International City and County Management Association. Brian is married to Julie, and they have two children, Andrew and Erin.
How are we doing?
Customer feedback is essential to evaluating the way the City departments deliver services. We get regular feedback through the City’s Customer Care Center
, outreach efforts such as Concord 101
, and from recognized neighborhoods in the Partnership for Stronger Neighborhoods program
. Of course, citizens also provide frequent thoughts and ideas through their elected officials
and by contacting the City Manager’s Office.
Every two years we supplement this information with a survey that solicits general feedback on City services and issues. The 2012 Concord Citizen Survey was conducted between October and December of 2012 by Research and Training Specialists, Inc. The survey sample was selected from a random list of 1,500 residential utility customers, plus any citizen who took the time to complete the survey on-line through the City’s web site. With 95 percent confidence that the findings are within a 5.8 percent margin of error, the results are very helpful. Here are some examples:
About 96 percent of the Concord residents who responded believe that the City is a good place to live and a good place to raise children. 94 percent believe Concord is a safe place to live. 92 percent think the City is making good decisions about the environment.
72 percent see Concord as providing good employment opportunities, up from 62 percent in 2010. 85 percent believe the City has a good environment for business. At the same time, over 80 percent of citizens are positive about Concord’s decisions on development and nearly 77 percent believe their tax dollars are being spent wisely. This is up from about 70 percent agreeing with both statements in 2010.
Over 90 percent now support the development of greenways, up from 72 percent in 2008.
Important to evaluating the effectiveness of our customer service initiative, nearly every department was rated by at least 90 percent of respondents as being courteous. On average, 93 percent of respondents agreed that City employees treat customers courteously; up from 91 percent in 2010. In addition, each department was considered to be professional by over 90 percent of the respondents.
We were particularly interested to see how customers viewed the recent changes in garbage and recycling collection methods. Roughly 9 out of every 10 respondents rated garbage and recycling collection as good or excellent. 43 percent feel service is more dependable than last year. Less than 3 percent found it to be less dependable.
87 percent of residents report high satisfaction with neighborhood streets, compared with 71 percent rating overall road conditions excellent or good. This once again suggests that residents have a higher level of satisfaction of work done by Concord Transportation on City-maintained streets compared to non-City-maintained streets.
85 percent of respondents feel informed about the City and its services. Many praised the Blackboard Connect system, with over 93 percent finding it useful and timely, and 96 percent stating they liked the service. 49 percent of respondents said they called the Customer Care Center for assistance.
We are pleased with the positive feedback and feel it reflects the dedication of our elected officials, as well as the City coworkers who are on the front line delivering essential services. However, every successful business knows you must always work to get better.
One area we are focusing on is improving the overall experience for customers when they do have a problem requiring assistance from one of our coworkers. We have also just completed soliciting information from our own front-line coworkers on the “user friendliness” of our support departments who are charged with helping them carry out their customer service mission. We are also using a mystery shopping program to flesh out areas where we can improve, and to identify individual coworkers who do a great job and can be held up as models for others. Finally, we are getting ready to conduct refresher training around our principles of excellent customer service.
The survey also asked participants to provide feedback on the major issues facing Concord. Thankfully, there are several efforts underway to help address the issues mentioned in the survey results.
Not surprisingly, jobs and the economy were the most frequently cited issues by residents. However, many residents simultaneously pointed out concerns about the impact of growth. This supports the need for an aggressive economic development program and user-friendly development review processes, while being comprehensive in making sure we grow the right way so new jobs and investment are positives for current residents.
This is the motivation for our new partnership with Cabarrus County to integrate with their development review software and process. We will make changes so business people seeking to invest or expand will have a seamless experience moving through the plans review process. This investment in more advanced technology can help us work with the County in promoting quality development while making the process much more user-friendly.
The second most frequently mentioned issue for the future was the combination of traffic, transportation, and infrastructure. In 2013 and 2014 the North Carolina Department of Transportation, supplemented by City of Concord dollars, will have more invested in transportation projects in Concord than any time in the past. This is in addition to the ongoing I-85 widening project, which includes improved interchanges with Poplar Tent and Davidson Highway (NC 73). Several new projects will begin soon, including:
- extension of George Liles Parkway
- improvements to major intersections such as
- Concord Parkway (US 29) with Poplar Tent Road and McGill Avenue
- Branchview Drive (NC 3) with Warren Coleman Boulevard (US 601)
- replacement of the Cabarrus Avenue railroad bridge
- replacement of the Burrage Road bridge
- widening of Derita Road from Concord Regional Airport to Poplar Tent Road
At the same time, to address citizen concerns we must continue to maintain existing roads and streets within the City. There is a great debate at the state level on how to generate the funding needed to more frequently maintain NCDOT facilities. We all should stay engaged in this discussion and encourage new ideas on how to fund both maintenance and new construction – both vital to community safety and economic development.
The Concord-Kannapolis Rider Transit system continues to serve more passengers and receive more requests for service at new locations. Several enhancements to Rider Transit are underway, and you can learn more about them in the article on page xx.
Infrastructure concerns involve more than just transportation. Adequate utilities are needed for community health reasons and for economic development alike. Concord and Kannapolis, in conjunction with the City of Albemarle, will start work on a waterline project this summer that will bring in more treated water from the City of Albemarle’s plants on the Yadkin River. This line will help serve all the areas in Cabarrus County zoned for urban and suburban development.
To learn more about the survey results, visit concordnc.gov
. We hope residents will continue to provide us with information on how we are doing and suggestions on ways we can improve. Surveys are very useful in getting a global picture of satisfaction levels, but examples of good customer service and those where we can improve are essential in identifying strengths and weaknesses.