Q & A session with new Village Manager

By Grant Miller….

Yocelyn Galiano Gomez

Yocelyn Galiano Gomez was confirmed by the Pinecrest Village Council as Pinecrest’s new Village Manager on July 18. She was the assistant village manager in Pinecrest for almost 10 years before moving up to her new post. She participated in this question-and-answer session with the Pinecrest Tribune shortly after being named Pinecrest’s chief executive officer.

Q: Tell us about your professional background?

A: I have been very fortunate to work in some great communities as a public administrator. After college, I started in an entry level position at the Village of Key Biscayne, shortly after its incorporation in 1992, and it was an incredible learning opportunity because, at the time, Key Biscayne was the first new municipality in Miami-Dade County in almost 50 years. I then joined Pinecrest’s staff and was here for eight years. In 2004, the City of Doral recruited me to serve as their first city manager and, before returning to Pinecrest in 2009, I also served as the administrative services director for the City of North Miami Beach. I have a Master’s degree in Public Administration from FIU and was one of the first public administrators from Florida to earn my “Credentialed Manager” designation from the International City/County Management Association.

Q: Why did you return to Pinecrest in 2009?

A: I grew up in this area and I love this community. As a professional public administrator, I am most proud of my tenure as the Village’s assistant manager and in being a part of the formulation of the Pinecrest municipal government beginning in 1996. In 2009 there was a chance to return to the Village and I am now thrilled to be the manager and have an opportunity, along with our Village Council and staff, to ensure that Pinecrest remains an efficient, effective and transparent municipal government.

Q: What is the role of the Village Manager?

A: The primary role of the manager is to implement the policies of the Village Council. To be successful in implementing the policies of the governing body, the manager must have a strong ability to communicate with all the stakeholders, including employees, elected officials, and the community. The manager also plays the role of a community leader, consensus builder, and communicator.

Q: How do you plan on communicating with the residents of Pinecrest?

A: Pinecrest incorporated to bring government closer to the people. It is very important to have input from all of our customers – especially our residents. I want to engage residents by having more neighborhood meetings to address local issues. I will also be hosting “Coffee with the Manager” on a regular basis to hear from our constituents. I think it is essential for our residents to be an active part of our vibrant, dynamic and wonderful community, and encourage them to connect with me whether in person, by email, on Facebook or via Twitter.

Q: What is the most significant issue facing Pinecrest?

A: I think the biggest challenge is the economic constraints on our budget as a result of the state’s property tax reform in 2007 and the downturn in the real estate market beginning in 2008. I will work with the Village Council to address the shortfalls in our budget and seek alternative revenues in addition to streamlining our organization. We are fortunate that Pinecrest has been very conservative with monies over the years and has ample reserves to provide a cushion during these difficult times, but we also need to be prudent about our operation going forward.

Q: What are some other issues?

A: The Village will be entering into union negotiations with our two police unions and potentially with a third general government employee union this fall; we are dealing with the proposed FPL project to install massive transmission lines along US 1; we still have over 1,000 properties that are not part of the county’s potable water system; and we continue to address issues regarding the use of the Pinecrest Gardens complex.

Q: How would you rate Pinecrest as an organization?

A: Our organization has significant strengths, but there are many areas in which we can do better. From an internal operating stand point, it is the manager’s responsibility to constantly monitor operations for efficiency and improvement opportunities. I specifically would like to unveil an aggressive customer service campaign that goes beyond the traditional training of all employees, and begins to hammer in the idea that 100 percent customer satisfaction is not just a goal, but rather a mandate.

Q: What do you envision for the future of the Pinecrest Parkway (US 1) corridor?

A: We should take a comprehensive look at the US 1 corridor, which has great potential. I would recommend seeking input from the business and residential communities and, together, develop a process that ultimately leads to a vibrant commercial corridor that continues to serve as an economic engine for our Village, as well as provide our residents with a myriad of shopping and dining options.

Q: Any closing remarks?

A: I am most humbled that Mayor Lerner and the Village Council have entrusted me with this position. Even though we are facing some challenges, I am very excited about our future in Pinecrest. As a public servant, I want to make sure that the public is always our main focus and, together with our staff, I want this organization to continue to provide excellence on a daily basis.

Yocelyn Galiano Gomez may be contacted at manager@pinecrest-fl.gov or by calling 305-234-2121.

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