In his first month on the job, Winfield City Manager Taggart Wall said he has been most impressed by the employees.
“I watched them deal with three floods in a row. They were on call 24/7, and didn’t complain about anyone asking for help. It’s the best display of teamwork,” Wall said.
Wall, a Winfield native and Winfield High School graduate, started as city manager on May 13. He served on the city commission from 2009 to 2013, while a student at Southwestern College. After graduating from Southwestern, Wall earned a masters of public administration from Wichita State University. He worked as a management intern for the City of Arkansas City for two years, before taking a job as city manager of Sterling, a job he held for over five years.
He became interested in city management through his experience as a city commissioner, with the opportunity to see the working of a city manager-led government up close. Wall said he appreciated this professional approach to local government, and decided to make a meaningful career out of it.
“I have had a blast so far doing so,” he said.
Wall said his experience as a city council member and a city manger has given him a broad background of knowledge on various aspects of city government, including city-college relations, utilities, business development, and police and fire services.
As a manager, Wall said his goal is “to offer a common sense product at the most efficient price for customers.”
“Citizens are customers, and should be treated like that,” he said.
In addition to ongoing projects, such as the public safety center that will be funded by a sales tax that was approved by Winfield voters this week, there also other projects in the works.
Wall said the city is working on updates to its comprehensive plan. This includes recycling/trash services, and parks, trails and recreation options.
“How do we get more people to choose to live here? This process will help identify that,” said Wall.
There is also a lot of work to do as far as upgrading infrastructure, and business development, said Wall.
The city has a lot of great things going for it, the manager said. Assets that stand out include the downtown area, a strong manufacturing base, parks and recreational opportunities.
In regards to the safety center, Wall said the new facility will help improve customer service, while making good use of taxpayer money by focusing on needs, not wants.
The best part about his job, said Wall, is getting to make a positive difference in the lives of people of all ages. One of the struggles of the job, though, is the inability to be all things to everyone.
Wall said managing a small community allows for a lot more involvement than there might be in a larger city. In small cities, the manager might do everything from making calls to the utility department, to learning how much construction material goes into a street patching job, to doing zoning.
“In layman’s terms, it helps you know what you’re talking about,” Wall said.
Wall said he and his family are excited to be back in Winfield. His wife, Elizabeth, will be a first grade teacher at Irving Elementary School beginning this fall, after previously teaching in the district. The couple has two children, a 4-year-old daughter and a 2-year-old son.
“We couldn’t be happier to raise out family here,” said Wall. “We’ve been overwhelmed with the support of the community and the warm welcome we’ve received from faces old and new.”
Winfield City Commissioner Phil Jarvis said Wall’s performance so far has exceeded his expectations.
Wall has presented himself to employees as someone who will listen to them, is interested in what they do and is available to meet with them, Jarvis said.
Jarvis said other candidates were interviewed even though commissioners were already familiar with Wall’s service as a city commissioner, and he thinks Wall’s hiring was the right choice.
“I look forward to continuing to work with him. He will be a tremendous asset to the City of Winfield,” said Jarvis.