Meet New London’s city administrator
Lou Leone discusses his new position
By Scott Bellile
New London City Administrator Lou Leone answered a series of questions regarding his new position with the city.
What are some of your duties as city administrator?
As city administrator for the city of New London, I serve as the chief administrative officer for the city.
My duties include fulfilling the policies set by the common council, managing the day-to-day activities of the city, and supervising/developing the department heads.
Other duties include meeting with citizens and business leaders to determine ways to improve city services for today, tomorrow and years from now. With these duties comes a significant amount of responsibility in the budgetary, managerial and operational strategies and goals of the city.
Prior to becoming the city administrator of Kiowa, Kansas, you worked in law. How has that experience helped you in your new career as a public servant?
I am fortunate to have had the chance to work in the legal field prior to becoming an administrator. I enjoy doing deep research into a project from the source point to completion and projecting potential legal issues depending on the project.
It has provided me with the ability to interpret legal and legislative topics in order to complete sometimes difficult projects for the community.
What is something you were proud to have accomplished in Kiowa?
During my time in Kiowa, there were two accomplishments that stand out for which I am proud to have achieved.
The first was the financial stability of the city. When I started in Kiowa, the city was on an eight-year trajectory toward bankruptcy. In three years of instituting a wide range of changes, I was able to bring the city back to financial stability. This included saving $3.7 million in expenses and recovered revenue.
The second accomplishment would be the vastly improved electric grid. Prior to 2017, power outages would last for 4-6 hours and sometimes for days.
Kiowa had only one emergency generator, which was not capable of supporting the city’s needs. In order to distribute enough power to citizens, 45-minute rotating blackouts were required.
With the purchase of a second 2-megawatt generator for a net cost increase of only $600 per month, Kiowa now has the capability to power the entire city at the same time. The generator purchase was the first step in several upgrades over the last two years that has increased the reliability of the city’s electric grid.
Coming to New London, what are some challenges you see pertaining to the city?
The challenges I see relate to managing growth. What I mean by that is growing the economy and bringing people to New London.
The first challenge is getting more people to be a part of this great community. Developing the downtown area, completing the Riverwalk, improving the roadways, these are the most immediate areas of concern.
I have spent some time already getting to know the people here and the one constant I’ve heard is that we need more development downtown and more businesses.
At the same time we need to look into opening up more land for housing development. The stronger the labor pool, the more attractive we as a city become to the current industry and potential future companies. Of course with change come new challenges.
And in what areas do you see positives or potential?
New London is blessed with an abundance of natural resources. Bike trails, boating, fishing, there is a little bit of everything to do outdoors. We have a great opportunity to provide more quality-of-life projects.
Another positive is the amount of land available for development.
Finally, the biggest asset the city has is its people. The citizens are very friendly, and the city staff is very talented.
What is something you have experienced and enjoyed so far in your short time here?
In the short time I have been in the administrator role, I have truly enjoyed meeting with staff, Mayor Henke and the committee heads. There is a great deal of talent working for the city every day.
As a husband and father, I am overwhelmed with how the people of New London have really made my family and I feel welcomed. I can’t express enough the gratitude I have for this.
What are two big things you would like to accomplish over the next year?
The two biggest items I would like to accomplish in the immediate future would be the completion of the Library-Riverfront Development project. I see this as the developing the area and the mixed-use library will go a long way to visually improving the riverfront area.
The second big item is more of a long term project. New London is a beautiful community with great citizens. I would like to see more economic development in the downtown area and out in the industrial park.
This city is great, and I would like to see it continue to grow and prosper for several years to come.