Q & A – Clarification from the City of Mont Belvieu
Dated: July 2, 2020
Q: How did Mont Belvieu go about hiring the Manager / Director and staff for their broadband project? Did they go to a head hunter agency? Did they use an employment agency? Did they rely on their in house HR?
A: For the Engineer/Director, we utilized Magellan to provide us job boards to post the position on. We developed a recruitment brochure in-house to go along with the Job Description and posting. Magellan assisted Nathan and I with screening the applicants and performing the initial interviews to determine their technical ability. After that, Nathan [City Manager Nathan Watkins] and I brought them in and interviewed them to determine their fit within our organization, work character, ethics, etc. Once we hired the Engineer/Director [Broadband/IT Director Dwight Thomas] he was able to work with HR to post the positions on the appropriate job boards for the different positions and screened the applicants. Dwight and I would then interview them together and of course, he handled the technical ability. Initially we utilized our Utility Billing clerks to handle sign-ups and we trained them internally to assist with basic CSR responsibilities. The Engineer/Director interviewed and trained the CSR as we built that team. (Reference: Assistant City Manager Scott Swigert, City of Mont Belvieu)
Q: What was the biggest challenge Mont Belvieu faced in getting the system up and running?
A: For Nathan and I it was hiring the Engineer/Director. Recruiting an individual to leave the private sector to join the City for less pay was a challenge. We had to sale the benefits of working for a city and being a part of something much bigger than what they were currently doing. Once we hired Dwight, he was able to monitor the construction, the contractors, etc. and was able to lead the hiring and training of the team. However recruiting from the private sector to public remains a challenge, primarily because of the salary range. For Dwight the biggest challenge was dealing with the Pipeline crossing that we had do around town to get the infrastructure underground. (Reference: Assistant City Manager Scott Swigert, City of Mont Belvieu)
Q: What would Mont Belvieu do differently?
A: We should have hired the Engineer/Director sooner, should have developed the back office processes and procedures earlier and should have made sure there were clean breaks, separation points for contractors including our consultant. (Reference: Assistant City Manager Scott Swigert, City of Mont Belvieu)
Q: What is the best advice Mont Belvieu would give the City of Lucas?
A: Get your Engineer on Board as quickly as you can so that they can help develop, implement and oversee the project and hiring and training of personnel. You know your citizens needs better than anyone else, make sure you design and develop to best meet their needs and expectations, and do not rely soley on the consultants, they do not know your citizens. (Reference: Assistant City Manager Scott Swigert, City of Mont Belvieu)
Q: Has Mont Belvieu done any citizen satisfactory surveys now that they are 5 years in? Results?
A: We have only been live for 2 yrs. We have not done a citizen survey at this point but are planning to with the next fiscal year. We have done customer surveys quarterly, resulting in positive feedback. Our network promoter score, people willing to promote our services, has exceeded 90%. (Reference: Assistant City Manager Scott Swigert, City of Mont Belvieu)
Q: If no survey what has been the #1 complaint of the citizens?
A: Wireless coverage within the homes. We have a large number of homes over 3,000 sqft with expanded exterior areas with which they want covered. We have implemented a new managed services program that the city will provide a device that will extend your coverage area for an additional monthly fee of a minimal $10/month. (Reference: Assistant City Manager Scott Swigert, City of Mont Belvieu)
Q: Did their “take rate” track close to the initial projections?
A: Our take rate has been and continues to be well ahead of our projections. We were projected to be at 400 by the end of the first year, however we had over 700 preregistered before we connected to the first house. With our growth we are projected to achieve 65% for residential after 3 yrs and then maintain the 65% thereafter. We achieve 65% after just 1 ½ year and have been able to maintain that ever since. We also started servicing businesses in January 2019, which has continued to grow and were not part of our initial take rate or business plan. (Reference: Assistant City Manager Scott Swigert, City of Mont Belvieu)
Q: What is the total number of employees in the City of Mont Belvieu currently? How many of those employees support or work for/with their broadband utility?
A: The City of Mont Belvieu has 104 employees and maintain a mix of 12 full-time and part-time broadband employees.