November 2, 2013
(West Palm Beach, FL) – On Thursday, West Palm Beach Mayor Jeri Muoio announced her pick to serve as the new City Administrator.
Mayor Muoio has asked Jeff Green, the city’s current Finance Director, to be the next City Administrator.
“As you may know, Jeff has been the architect behind the city’s new five year strategic plan, a fiscal and policy roadmap unlike anything this city has had in the past,” Muoio wrote in an email to to employees.
Green is a Certified Public Accountant with over twenty five years of financial management experience, including six years with a big five international public accounting firm. Jeff has served as a CFO in both the private and public sectors.
The INSIDER spoke to Green after the announcement for this EXCLUSIVE Q&A you won’t read anywhere else:
INSIDER: What you think will be among the most difficult challenges you and the Mayor will face in the short term?
GREEN: We are just starting to turn the corner on property values here in the city. But in the last several years, we’ve lost 40% of the city’s tax base. It will take 10 years to get those dollars back. In the interim, there are capital improvements and maintenance that needs to get done.
INSIDER: What are the consequences of not having the dollars to pay for those items you mentioned?
GREEN: The Mayor’s priority is economic development and business attraction. When a CEO of a potential corporate relocation looks around our city, we must show well. It’s like selling a house. You need to put your absolute best foot forward.
INSIDER: Pension problems have repeatedly been identified by cities as a significant issue handcuffing their budgets. You’ve talked often about the need for pension reform. How serious a problem is it?
GREEN: The city a few years ago restructured the retirement system for general employees. It was an important and successful step. But we must address police and fire pensions. That’s going to be more difficult, but together with the unions we must find a way to reduce the costs to the city. I think the unions are really starting to understand there will need to be major changes on both sides. We need to remain competitive, but we must find a way to reduce costs.
INSIDER: You mentioned the Mayor’s commitment to economic development. What does that term mean to you?
GREEN: The city can not be the primary driver of economic development. Economic development happens in the private sector. But what cities must do it offer incentives, make sure the infrastructure is there, and get out of the way. Economic development is a public/private partnership.
INSIDER: What about public/public partnerships? Do they play a role?
GREEN: They can play a significant role. We need to look at more public/public partnerships. Working with the county or other cities can be a powerful tool to help both sides save money and increase efficiencies.
INSIDER: What do you consider West Palm Beach’s greatest asset?
GREEN: Without a doubt, it is our downtown. Once you leave Fort Lauderdale, we are the only east coast city anywhere near here that offers an authentic, vibrant, urban downtown. When I first came here, what impressed me more than anything was the amount of activity and energy in our downtown. You can’t take that for granted.
INSIDER: Jeff, thanks so much for talking with us.