Farragut staff stays lean by working harder, smarter

Wendy SmithFarragut, The Farragut Insider

Town of Farragut Codes Officer/Commercial Plans Examiner John Householder is retiring after 22 years of service, so his co-workers gathered last week to wish him well. He’s one of only a handful of employees who have retired from the town since it was incorporated in 1980. It is, after all, a relatively small staff, in spite of the depth of services offered.

There are currently 52 full-time town employees, along with a few contract personnel (like the town attorney) and several part-time staff members. Approximately 30 work at Town Hall; the rest are part of the public works department.

In 2008, when the town offered fewer services and owned fewer assets, there were 41 full-time staff members. (Nineteen of those still work for the town.) Since then, five maintenance operators (public works staff), one human resources manager, one IT manager, one building official and two parks and recreation staff members have been added, as well as five part-time positions. It’s a lean staff that works together to meet the needs of this growing community while keeping staffing to a minimum.

Mary Lou Koepp was Farragut’s first employee, the town recorder (she retired in 2004 and passed away in 2016). She was hired in fall 1980, and in February 1981, Jack Hamlett was hired as town administrator. They were the only full-time employees for the first few years.

Public Works Director Bud McKelvey currently holds the record for longest service. He joined the codes department on June 1, 1987. Farragut has changed a lot since then, he says.

“The town was just a baby when I started. Everything was in baby mode. We were just starting out with parks, just starting out with road projects. The population was way down. Now, we’re full grown.”

The town may be “grown,” but it’s still growing, along with the number of services offered. Farragut has a new tourism program that aims to draw both local and out-of-town guests. A new community center is slated to open later this year, and an outdoor plaza will soon be added at the Campbell Station Inn. The Board of Mayor and Aldermen is in the process of deciding how to best expand McFee Park. While these upgrades will likely require additional staff, the town will continue to be a lean operation.

Trevor Hobbs joined the town last year as the assistant to the town administrator. He graduated with a master’s in public policy and administration from the University of Tennessee, and one of his roles is streamlining town services.

“Having worked in much larger, more complex organizations with far more resources and personnel, I am constantly inspired by how much our staff is able to accomplish, in such a short time, with such limited resources,” he says. “I attribute our staff’s efficiency and effectiveness, despite being small in number, to our professional management and our professional staff at every level of the organization. Our staff work hard and work smart.”



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