TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Topeka's outgoing interim city manager says people need to invest interest in their government in our for the city to move forward.
Dan Stanley's last day on the job was Friday. He says he knew he'd face challenges when he agreed to take the position in the wake of Norton Bonaparte's departure, but he felt a need to address unfinished business after leaving a few months into his first city council term in 2001 for a job at the Pentagon.
Ten and a half months later, he's leaving Topeka again. This time, it's to care for his mother. Stanley says he never feels good about leaving Topeka because he has a personal love for the city, however he says he has "more important things to do right now." His mother recently spent three days in the hospital.
As he prepares to depart, though, Stanley told 13 News he feels he's been able to bring about some change in critical issues Topeka was facing.
"The job's not done," he said, "but it's never done."
Among the seeds Stanley says he's planted are bringing about accountability in the budgeting process. He says outcomes are now important, rather than just activities.
Stanley also faced shoring up the city's health insurance fund, which was dangerously close to going broke. The fix involved employees paying in more. Stanley admits it was painful, but he said there was no alternative.
The whole city might feel the pinch of the work Stanley says remains. He cites crumbling infrastructure, an underfunded police force and a water system that doesn't meet federal regulations in saying resistance to increasing mil levies and water rates must change.
Stanley says it's a tension between politics and tough decisions that always exists, but he says the public probably has gotten a pass on the increasing costs of what it takes to run a city and those costs are coming due.
Stanley says he's tried to educate the public about the issues and present plans to address them, but the people must commit to solutions.
"It can't get better without you (the citizens)," he said.
Nearly 50 people applied to be Topeka's next permanent city manager. A search firm is in the process of forming a list of candidates to interview.
Listen to the complete interview to hear Stanley's thoughts on the current City Council and his ideas on changes Topeka should consider for its form of government.