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 is a Past President of the Academic Learning Center and continues to serve on that Board. He 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 Chairman of the Cabarrus County United Way, his second time serving in that role. Brian served as the Chair of the United Way Campaign in Cabarrus County in 2002. He is a Past-President of the Concord Rotary Club, where he was named Rotarian of the Year in 2012, and the Lake Hickory Rotary Club. He is also a former board member of Hospice of Cabarrus County. He is a Past President of the North Carolina City and County Management Association, having served as President in 2012-13, and has served on several committees supporting the International 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. . Brian is married to Julie, and they have two grown children, Andrew and Erin.
City Hall construction begins
Folks passing by probably have noticed that work has started on the new City Hall site at the corner of Cabarrus Avenue and Market Street. The City Council held a groundbreaking ceremony on July 25, with CM Black Construction Co. beginning site work on July 28. This marks the beginning of a project to produce a building that will be far more customer-friendly than our current facilities, and allow the City organization to be more efficient. The building is scheduled to be complete before the end of 2015.
Currently, most of the coworkers that will be located in the new building are spread across three Downtown buildings. Another function that will be moved is temporarily located in Fire Station 3 on Warren Coleman Boulevard. The layouts of these existing buildings are not customer-friendly for governmental operations, and it is extremely difficult to alter these spaces to improve conditions due to their structural limitations. For example, the Municipal Building at 26 Union Street South is actually three different buildings that have been merged together, and many of the walls are load bearing and cannot be moved. When you enter into the collection area in the front of this building, there are limited waiting areas to accommodate customer traffic during peak times. Also, we have been restricted in our ability to create private areas for confidential discussions that take place regarding payment issues.
Another major challenge is the Council Chambers. The current Council Chambers was built to accommodate meetings for a City with one fourth of Concord's current population. Residents coming for meetings when there are topics of great interest often find themselves standing and pressed against a wall. Meeting and overall building security were also not big concerns when these buildings were constructed and/or renovated. The security of our customers and our coworkers has to be a major consideration in today’s world.
Currently, many similar internal functions are physically separated, making it more difficult to achieve efficiencies. For example, the Customer Care Center (704-920-5555) is located in a different place from service representatives working with customers face-to-face. While many of these coworkers are cross-trained, the physical separation makes it more difficult for them to assist each other during peak times. The new building has been designed so these coworkers will be located in the same area, making such assistance seamless. This will be particularly helpful to reduce instances when customers have to hold for a representative when calling.
Having departments within the same building will help in other areas. Persons getting permits will be able to pay for them without the City having multiple payment points that can undermine our financial controls. Fire inspectors that are involved in the plans review process will be located in the same area as the planners that are facilitating the development review process. Finally, departments such as Finance will have all coworkers in the same building and near other administrative functions, such as Human Resources and Risk Management, requiring frequent communication.
The new City Hall is the final step of a three step plan the City Council established several years ago. The first was constructing a parking deck on Cabarrus Avenue in 2002. The deck not only provides public parking, but moved employee and City vehicle parking out of Downtown surface lots to make them more convenient for the general public. The deck was also essential to provide customer and employee parking for the rest of the plan. The next step was the construction of the Police Headquarters across the street in 2006, with construction of City Hall being the final piece.
Moving the City Hall to the new location should also help Downtown by diverting parking demand from the City's two current buildings on Union Street. More importantly, it will allow these buildings to be used for different purposes, most likely in the private sector. At the same time, functions within the new public building will remain in Downtown so the activity around the City Hall can continue to contribute to the vitality of the heart of Concord. Follow along with the project at concordnc.gov/newcityhall