Call it self serving but I think governments get a bad rap. It’s a shame that nothing clears a room like the line — I’m from the government and I’m here to help. But face it, we created government to do our dirty work. Your neighbor hasn’t cut his lawn in 4 weeks, who you gonna call to go knock on his door and get it cut? Your city worker. Sewer backup? Guess who — another city worker. Loud party keeping you up at night, 1-800-CITY EMPLOYEE. You can imagine how most of these conversations go. Knock, knock…Sir you’re in violation of section such and such….get off my #!&*% property. None of us in our right mind would willingly put ourselves in that kind of situation so we created city workers to do it for us. It’s the old adage let’s get the city worker to do it, he’ll do anything. And that’s what your Code Officer faces everyday. The good news is we’ve recently hired a really good one who just might be able to turn that government rap around.
These types of calls and conversations go on every day and like most organizations some city employees handle them better than others but any way you look at it these are difficult situations for even the best of the best. That’s why we’re so happy with our new Code Enforcement Officer, Troy Loomis. He knows how to deliver bad news with a friendly face.
In the world of Code Enforcment our customers fall into 2 categories: 1)those that are happy to see us; and 2)those that are happy to see us go. As I’ve watched Troy in action during his first 6 months on the job I’d say he’s still got more people in the second category than the first but he’s definitely working hard to put a new face (both literally and figuratively) on the role of Code Enforcement so that in a year or so he can point proudly to all of the people in the first category that he converted from the second.
Don’t get me wrong, he’s not elected and the success of his job is not measured by his popularity but he is a city employee and that means he’s got an obligation to do right by people even in difficult situations. People don’t have to always be happy to see him but he always has to give people a fair shake and I know he works hard to do that even when he’s being shouted at.
Like most things in life the majority of the people don’t let their grass and weeds grow excessively high on purpose to spite their neighbors (although that happens on occassion) so much of what Troy does is to be a friendly reminder and a bit of a part time teacher in the real life class of civics.
People love to cheer for anyone that wants to fight City Hall which makes Troy a bit of a marked man on the street but he’s good at depersonalizing the issue which is hugely important in the art of positive persuasion. Really, it’s not about whether you’re a good or bad person, it’s just that we need your help to keep your grass cut. That’s it. Can you help us out?
In keeping with a kinder, more friendly approach, Troy also has started a new tool loan program. The idea is to show people that we really are here to help and to get results, not pick on people. The results are usually things like getting grass cut, doors painted, shingles replaced, so borrowing a page from the City of Brunswick Ohio Troy has started a new tool loan program which allows Kent residents to borrow the tools needed to get the results everybody is looking for.
We get that we have a fairly high renter and absentee landlord population that may not always be fully equipped for every maintenance job so we are trying to step in and remove the obstacle of not having the right tools for the job. The tools can be rented free of charge and as long as you return the item in the same condition that you took it out we’ll give you your deposit back. It’s as simple as that.
We’re starting small to see how it goes but I was impressed with Troy’s initiative and his willingness to step outside the proverbial box to offer better service. He’s done his homework and he’s come up with a solid program that should help address a critical need to keep our neighborhoods strong.
If you want to talk to Troy about the program or borrow a tool you can reach him at 330.678.8108.
Here’s a description of the new service from Troy: