Oskaloosa City Manager Recognized By His Peers

Oskaloosa City Manager Michael Schrock in his office this past week. Schrock was awarded Manager of the Year Award from the Iowa City/County Management Association (IaCMA)

Oskaloosa City Manager Michael Schrock in his office this past week. Schrock was awarded Manager of the Year Award from the Iowa City/County Management Association (IaCMA)

by Ken Allsup

Sitting in his corner office at City Hall, Oskaloosa City Manager Michael Schrock finishes talking with a department head and invites me to come talk about something he’s not very comfortable talking about, himself.

Schrock, the recipient of the 2018 City Manager of the Year Iowa City/County Management Association (IaCMA) during the Awards Banquet at the Iowa League of Cities Annual Conference & Exhibit in Council Bluffs.

IaCMA’s Annual Manager of the Year Award honors chief administrators whose accomplishments and superior work performance represent the best possible application of management principles and whose creative contributions to professional local government management increases public awareness of the value of professional management to the quality of life in our communities.

Michael Schrock hit the ground running when he accepted his position in the summer of 2009. Known for his professionalism, hard work and ability to come up with new and creative solutions, he was nominated separately by his mayor and two of his peer city managers.

City Managers often carry the brunt of community commentary, much of which is negative in nature, and getting some recognition from your peers is helpful. For Schrock, he says receiving such attention isn’t an expectation. “I prefer to lead from behind and not take the accolades; I’m here to kind of take the bad stuff and maybe some of the things that aren’t so pleasant, and let others be the recipient of the good stuff, which is the way it should be. Honestly, that’s how it’s worked for us for the past 9 years.”

“When I got the award, I was totally surprised by it,” added Schrock. “It’s not necessarily about me. I don’t view it as an award just for me, I think it’s about the team that we have here. We have great staff. I’m very fortunate with the team that we have. If they don’t do their job well, then clearly this doesn’t happen from my perspective.”

“I see it really as an award for the City of Oskaloosa, and our staff and council members have been helpful in the process,” added Schrock.

Oskaloosa Mayor David Krutzfeldt stated on his nomination form “I consider the time we have worked together to be a blessing to me and the community. During that time he has enacted numerous policies and practices that have enhanced the efficiency and effectiveness of our municipality.”

Oskaloosa has been lucky to see a lot of construction taking place in the past two years. There have been the painfully expensive public works, such as sanitary sewer improvements, and new roads.

Beyond the city’s projects, there have been many private developments underway, and soon underway. Examples of those include: the new Gateway addition, where the new Fairfield Inn & Suites just announced it was building; market rate apartments along B Avenue; subdivisions like Marje; and many other new homes popping up around town.

Schrock still has many obstacles he’s leading the city on, such as the wastewater treatment plant that looms on the horizon.

“We’ve been deliberate about how we’re going to address problems that come up, and we’re not just going to let them sit. That was one of the first things when I got hired, I told the council, ‘I’m going to try to change some things up’, and there were times I got out in front of them a little bit. Maybe we weren’t ready for all of those changes, and it takes some time,” said Schrock.

“An example would be rental inspection. Another example would be anything that has to do with solid waste. Those are things that just can’t be readily implemented, and we have to discuss them a little bit further,” said Shrock. “Yeah, I think we’re working towards addressing problems that have been forthcoming for a number of years. We’re not putting blame on anyone in the past, because as a county we’ve deferred maintenance on things. It’s just easier sometimes not to address it now, and we put it off.”

Oskaloosa’s City Manager, Michael Schrock, was awarded the Manager of the Year Award from the Iowa City/County Management Association (IaCMA) during the Awards Banquet at the Iowa League of Cities Annual Conference & Exhibit in Council Bluffs.

Oskaloosa’s City Manager, Michael Schrock, was awarded the Manager of the Year Award from the Iowa City/County Management Association (IaCMA) during the Awards Banquet at the Iowa League of Cities Annual Conference & Exhibit in Council Bluffs.

“And certainly once I leave, I’m sure somebody coming in would eventually say the same thing about us. We could have done something better,” Schrock said of his potential legacy. “But if we know about problems, we’ve been trying to address them and trying to set the community up in a way that we’re ready to develop. We’re willing to accept people that are coming in or that maybe want to take a chance on investing in Oskaloosa. We’re trying to make sure that our existing people who invest understand that this is a good place to continue to be, whether it be an employer or somebody that lives here.”

“All the things that we’re trying to do is to set the community up for success,” added Schrock. “Obviously that’s hard work. It takes a lot of time. The housing issue is an example. We’ve been working on that for years, and it does take local investment. It takes a lot of money, and it takes a lot of time. We have people, thankfully, in this community that are willing to step up and do that type of work.”

“It’s not just us as an organization; it’s, I think, a feeling in the community. And I think you have to move past some of that negativity,” added Schrock. “I believe we’ve moved past that. There’s always going to be some naysayers who don’t like what we do or what the community is doing, and that’s also good to hear that information every now and then, because we’re not going to do everything right, we can always improve.”

“It’s all about setting us up for better success, more success and doing that at a reasonable rate and not all at once,” said Schrock.

Change is difficult for people, but Schrock says that “Anything worth changing is usually difficult.”

Schrock says that long-term changes are time-consuming and resource draining and “Intensive, but I think they have long-term payoffs. You look at the things we’re doing as a community, long-term payoffs. Construction of a new fire station that can house our existing apparatus, and what we eventually acquired for an aerial. Working on the sewer system. It’s expensive but, unfortunately, we’re mandated to do the things we have to do, but in the long run the system is going to be more dependable. We won’t have as many failures, and we’re going to meet the standards set forth.”

Schrock added that the recreation center is still in play and the city continues to work with the Oskaloosa School District and the YMCA on that project. “That’s a long-term project; it’s not easy to get that off the ground when you’re talking about millions of dollars and dealing with multiple entities.”

Looking towards the bypass around Oskaloosa, Schrock says, “Our friends at the County were the lead of that project initially about 9 years ago, along with our industrial development corporation and the city. That is still in play. The DOT is doing everything they can at this point to get it tee’d up for funding in the 5-year plan. That’ll eventually happen, long-term investment.”

“The airport is another one. Closing down two facilities, operating one modern facility. Right now our facility is 12 miles away. That’s a long-term improvement and investment in our community.”

“So those are the things that take a long time,” adds Schrock.

Such projects can have the initial knee-jerk reactions when constituents ask why a project is being done. “We need to make sure that we’re providing some information on why that’s important to the community and its long-term viability. I’ve always said, we’re fighting for our sustainability. We’ve got to do everything we can to make sure that we’re investing the right way, and I think the council has done a good job with that, and we’re trying to implement what they want done,” said Schrock.

Oskaloosa News asked Schrock, as he’s looking long-term what sorts of projects or work does he envision for Oskaloosa. “My opinion, and it’s just mine alone, this isn’t the city council. We can never invest enough money in downtown. I’ve said that from the beginning and that’s why I continue to support and push any type of programs we can offer downtown business owners or if we can go out and seek grants for facade improvements, or enforce existing codes. I think there are things there that we will need to continue to do and invest as a community to keep us a great place. We are uniquely known for the architecture in downtown. It’s a great place. We have so much more potential for development in our downtown. So that’s where I see us continuing to go in the future.”

“Some other projects have clearly been defined through discussions within the community and the council, and that would be corridor improvements,” said Schrock. “It’s a slow process, but I’d like to figure out how we could get that done a little bit quicker.”

“The recreation center. Making sure we have a way to work with the school district and provide the amenities that are needed for the community on the recreation side, on the daycare side, and tying in ways to make sure the school district is performing at the highest level. If they are doing well as a school district, we’re going to do well as a community and that’s something that whatever we can do as a city organization to support their efforts, we need to be doing that.”

Posted by on Sep 23 2018. Filed under Local News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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