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Abrew Juggles Titles, Multiple City Tasks
One more title - and a host of other duties - have been added to the daily routine of Escalon City Engineer, Public Works Director and now Deputy City Manager John Abrew. He will serve as deputy manager, working with interim City Manager Henry Hesling until Hesling leaves his assignment with the city at the end of the fiscal year, June 30.

"Time management is definitely the most important part of each day," Abrew admitted of the somewhat daunting trio of titles. "At any given time issues pertaining to Development Services, Capital Improvement Projects, Public Works, etc. are being addressed. Out of necessity, time is set aside for the various departments throughout the day and week to try and minimize the steady stream of staff coming in and out of my office throughout the day."

Abrew will serve in the deputy city manager role as the city considers how to replace Hesling while trying to keep personnel costs under control.

In fact, the 2012-2013 city budget approved by the council on Monday night, June 4, shows the city will have to dip into reserves, with the general fund expenditures higher than the predicted general fund revenues.

"The reality is daily priorities can change two to three times per day making scheduling difficult," added Abrew. "The additional responsibilities of the Deputy City Manager position translates to a need for greater focus as well as having a daily/weekly/monthly game plan that is flexible. Finding time to back away and recharge is just as important."

Abrew will work with the city staff to try and stay within the confines of the budget, with a $2,961,073 operating general fund expenditure plan approved by a 5-0 vote of the council at the Monday night session. Revenues, said Hesling, are estimated at $2,814,640 so the reserve needed to balance that plan is $146,433.

But, figuring in debt service on city buildings and equipment expenditures besides, more reserve will be needed and Hesling estimates the amount on hand at the end of the fiscal year in June 2013 will be about $1.14 million, down from $1.77 million in reserve this year.

"The most challenging part of the job, as it is for everyone, is the economic situation. We are doing more with less and we will continue to strive to find more efficient standards of operation in the organization," Abrew said. "Criticism due to the cutbacks, from within the organization or from the public, is part of the job. The organization is constantly evolving to deliver services to the best of the City's ability with reduced revenue. The mission will always be to place the City's best interest above all else."

Abrew said while he didn't seek the post of deputy city manager, the slow but steadily increasing responsibilities he has taken on provided a "natural progression" to the job. He also plans to learn as much as he can from Hesling while he has the opportunity.

"Henry is someone I will continue to seek advice and counsel from as necessary ... his experience and knowledge is outstanding. I continue to squeeze as much information and advice from Henry as I have the past several years."

Hesling's future role with the city, following his June 30 departure, could possibly include some consulting and special projects from time to time.

"Our expectation is that the transition will be a smooth one," said Abrew.