Mixing traditional services with inventive approaches to meet the needs of citizens, officials with the City of Sevierville have made it their goal to improve both the quality of their governing and the life of citizens. The city’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen work hand-in-hand with city employees to develop best practices, find unique solutions to city issues, and provide citizens with easy access to necessary services.
The Tennessee Municipal League has honored Sevierville with an award for Excellence in Governance for its innovative approach to policy, administrative procedures, and providing both traditional and new services to the community. The award was presented on Tuesday, June 9, 2015 during TML’s 76th Annual Conference at the Nashville Convention Center in Nashville.
Pat Hardy, a municipal management consultant with the Municipal Technical Advisory Service, said Sevierville’s BOMA works seamlessly together with the city’s staff to provide an array of traditional services and supporting a variety of innovative approaches to the delivery of these services. These efforts are led on the board side by Mayor Bryan Atchley and on the administrative side by City Administrator Russell Treadway.
“From the boards’ perspective, I can’t say enough about our entire City staff,” said Mayor Atchley. “They are always looking for ways to improve and provide even better service to our residents and visitors.”
City leaders began by conducting a variety of needs-assessment studies to find out what was in the best interest of citizens, including a comprehensive cost of delivery review to determine the actual cost of services provided to citizens. These citizen surveys will be completed every two years to provide information about the direction the city needs to take with its services. Additionally, a survey was distributed to employees to gauge their job satisfaction and take suggestions for improvement.
The city hired an economic development director to undertake a retail recruitment study and has become a participant in the MTAS Benchmarking Project. Officials also worked to make city codes more streamlined. The Sevierville Municipal Code was completely recodified in 2015 and a revision to the city’s zoning and land development regulations is expected to be complete by the end of this year. As a result of these surveys and closer looks at city codes, the city has developed a strategic approach to improving the community that both demands quality and promotes imaginative ideas.
“Each of these points to the continued innovation and ‘push to do better’ that has become a hallmark of the way Sevierville conducts its business,” Hardy said. “Projects like this are not accomplished without a high-quality governance team of both elected officials and appointed staff, who are able to work together to conceive of, design, and implement exciting and new approaches to otherwise standard service delivery.”
The city has also strived to promote the flow of public information and public communication through the My Sevierville app, citizen E-newsletters, and the establishment of Facebook pages and Twitter accounts as well as a new city website. The online website allows residents access to forms and applications. The city has also used technology to provide enhanced hospitality tax software allowing the online filing and payment of hotel, restaurant and amusement taxes. The city’s monitoring of water and sewer resources has also been centralized through a product called SCADA (System Control & Data Acquisition), which is available via the Internet on desktop computers and mobile devices.
The city also partnered with various other local entities and the state to undertake a variety of projects. A partnership with the town of Pigeon Forge resulted in a $445,750 grant for a traffic flow improvement project on the Highway 66/Parkway corridor. Two partnerships with Sevier County led to the purchase of a former bank facility to be marketed to higher education providers and the rebuilding of eight public tennis courts. The state and the U.S. Tennis Association also helped provide funding for the tennis court renovation, which won the city an award for outstanding public facilities.
Sevierville also used a TDOT Enhancement Grant to grow and connect the city’s already extensive greenway system. In 2014, an underutilized vending area in the city’s community center was converted into an information area for programs and activities in Sevierville and Sevier County that promote green communities. Named the “Green Corner,” the project received a TDEC award.
“These are but a few of the many accomplishments the city has achieved over the past couple of years,” Hardy said. “Sevierville is truly a ‘city on the move.’ The city staff, along with a top-notch Board of Mayor and Aldermen, has worked together as a team to achieve these things. They have done this by strategically planning, hiring and retaining top staff, and by embracing a customer-oriented focus in everything they do.”
Each year the Tennessee Municipal League honors cities throughout the state for overall excellence, improvement, specific outstanding programs, or department accomplishments. Other award winners for 2015 include: Excellence in Employee Relations / Human Resource Practices – Greeneville; Excellence in Fire Management Service – Columbia; Excellence in Energy Efficiency – Somerville; Excellence in Green Leadership – Cleveland; Excellence in Police Services – Brentwood; Excellence in Public Works – Chattanooga; Small City Progress – Eagleville; Small Town Progress – Troy.