(Fargo, ND) -- Fargo City Administrator Michael Redlinger spoke to WDAY Radio about the goals of the the department, what they intend to do with the future, all while attempting to maintain a reputation of hometown service with a metro-sized community.
The City Administration is the culmination of multiple different departments throughout Fargo, but also acts as a liaison for those not under the direct umbrella of the department. The City Administration department works hand-in-hand with multiple other closely tied departments; including Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Strategic Planning and Research, and Policies and Projects. Outside of this core group, administration also works to cooperate and assist the remaining city departments. Redlinger says the support they provide can take multiple different forms, but largely consists of making sure the city is headed towards the same direction.
"We deliver our value by making sure that [other departments got] the support that they need..." said Redlinger, "Administration is the glue that is just trying to work across all the departments, keeping it together, and just trying to support the elected body."
Outside of cooperating with the departments themselves, Redlinger is largely tasked with assisting Fargo's elected officials with research questions or general assistance they may need. This includes the city's Mayor, Tim Mahoney, but also consists of four elected commissioners; Arlette Preston, Denise Kolpack, Dave Piepkorn, and John Strand. The City Administrator also is tasked with working together with those elected leaders to help establish the yearly budget priorities for the city.
In addition, City Administration says they are often the people to reach out to other organizations outside of Fargo City Government to cooperate on projects. Redlinger says this includes non-profits, non-governmental organizations, and other organizations that work within or have the capacity to assist missions the city government supports. A concrete example is Fargo's Parks District, an organization that is not under the purview of city government and its own political subdivision that operates within the city limits, but otherwise includes neighboring cities and communities.. Redlinger says the city and the outside organizations often heavily coordinate with each other, but do not operate under the same banner.
The department also prides itself on providing good "customer service" to Fargo residents and employees. Redlinger says he sometimes directly inserts himself in problems that oftentimes could be handled by other departments, saying this method of engaging with constituents is one way to know the city government is trying to give direct answers to questions.
"I'd like to think [...] that we are still moderately sized and still scalable. That when people need something that they can get an answer that they need without getting frustrated," said Redlinger, "Yeah, I pick up the phone every day from random phone calls, somebody that needs something, that's great. Let's help out, let's do what we can."
Plans for the future
Moving to the future, Redlinger expects Fargo to continue seeing growth. The city is currently expanding south, with its options being limited to the east and west. The City Administrator says growth does bring its own set of challenges, as Fargo is beginning to transition from its previous title as a small city.
"Its not going to be that many years down the road that we expect [the] Fargo, Moorhead, West Fargo area will be about 350,000 people in population. If that's in another 25 years time, or 30 years time, and that's going to be about 2050, we will be a pretty large community at that point..." said Redlinger, "We will look different, we will function like a larger community would. Kind of a smaller version of a Minneapolis in that regard."
The Administrator hopes the growth taking place in the city will not impact their goal of high customer service and friendly support. He says Fargo has a history of identifying and having strong connections within their communities and neighborhoods, and hopes that will continue as the city continues to expand its residential districts. He says this includes families from multiple different backgrounds, states, and countries.
"I believe it is part of the ethos of the Fargo citizenry to band together and come together, "said Redlinger.
From an Administration standpoint, he says they will need to keep up with the growth happening within the city's borders. He says this requires staffing, but also being "reflective" of what its population and what residents want within the city. He says this can happen by conducting and acting upon surveys and studies, finding policies supported by its citizens and crafting them into law.
"We are simply here to help them implement that vision and so we need to make sure that as an administrative unit, as senior staff, our twenty-two departments, our elected officials, that we are listening to that..." said Redlinger, "The community is going to really be in a strong position for future success [and] future growth [...] This metropolitan community, in Fargo in particular, is going to be a place where people are going to be welcome, they are going to have opportunities here that will be on-par with those kinds of opportunities and maybe even exceed those opportunities that you might find in other metropolitan communities. We believe that our stage is only going to grow, we believe that our status is only going to grow. We just really want to work with our public, work with our community, to help work on that vision together."
You can learn more about Fargo's City Administration department by clicking here.