Koehler pleased with first month of job as deputy city manager

Jeri Koehler hit the ground running in her new city position as deputy city manager.

Approximately one month after taking the position as Claremore’s deputy city manager, Jeri Koehler has “hit the ground running,” she said.

Koehler took over her official role on Feb. 13 by first attending Claremore Day at the State Capitol. After that, she plunged into a different plate of duties than her former role as executive director of Claremore Industrial and Economic Development Authority (CIEDA).

Koehler did not have to get use to another office since she is keeping the same one she had at City Hall while working for CIEDA.

As deputy city manager, her role now involves more internal management than outside sales. Tranisitioning was easy, she said, as she immediately began tackling budget hearings, human resource specifics, special projects and negotiating the city's healthcare coverage.

Of the healthcare negotiations, Koehler said, this is something that is negotiated each year to get the best possible rate that the city can operate under.

She is currently negotiating the city’s health insurance rates for next year, where there is a proposed 25 percent rate increase. The increase would be devastating, she said, adding that would mean a $500,000 more each year.

“That is a half of a million dollars of health insurance with no extra coverage,” she said.

Budget hearings are also underway, she said, and remains hopeful the budgets for each city department will be ready for city council approval and a final budget completed before July 1.

Among those host of duties, she is also researching the “kinks with the railroads” in town.

“There have been significant blockages of the tracks in January and we are still trying to get to the bottom of why they were blocked so often. That falls on me,” she added.

Looking ahead and embracing the State of the City’s address held in January, Koehler said she hopes to unveil more about City Manager Jim Thomas' Claremore Dream 2025.

“That (Claremore Dream 2025) is his (Thomas') next strategic plan for the city with what big capital budgets will do, what the next steps for transportation and infrastructure are, and the quality of life,” she said.

She plans to do a six-month rollout using several town hall sessions and an online survey to gain citizen input on important city projects.

“If you are putting a 10-year plan together, you want to put a lot of good information into it,” she said.

This will also include how projects will get funded.

“It is important for the community to participate.”

As far as how she likes her new position, she said, “I love it. It is awesome.”

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