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Boldt assumes role as Tiffin’s administrator

TIFFIN– As the City of Tiffin transitions into new leadership, the city’s new manager will be transitioning back into the public sector.
Doug Boldt, 41, was hired as Tiffin City Administrator last month after a search conducted by Pat Callahan Associates garnered 22 applicants and culled five interviewees from that list.
Boldt served as Tipton’s City Manager from 2005 until 2012. Though he has spent the last three years working in the private company he co-owned, public service has never been far from his mind.
“I missed it,” said Boldt. “The private sector was okay, but I wanted great.”
Boldt’s interest in municipal operations began early as he grew up in Wilton; during summer breaks from college, he took on jobs in Wilton’s public works department. After an earnest conversation with Wilton’s city administrator at the time, Boldt returned to his next semester at the University of Northern Iowa (UNI) and immediately changed his major to public administration.
“He was speaking my language,” Boldt said. “I knew that’s what I wanted to do with my life.”
After graduating with honors from UNI, Boldt spent two years as Director of Public Works for the City of Maquoketa before becoming city manager in Tipton.
Boldt understands how infrastructure systems work and how they properly support a growing community, and his knowledge and experience in that area will be an asset as Tiffin launches an expansion of its wastewater treatment facility, a project that started with permit work last fall and should be completed mid-2017.
Boldt’s work in the private sector did not provide the same kind of involvement in long-range planning and processes, which is another reason he chose to return to public work.
“I was so used to seeing projects from start to finish– from idea to conception to construction to groundbreakings and ribbon cuttings,” he said. To be sure, his company, Century Custom Painting and Sandblasting, had some prestigious clients and completed significant projects for entities like John Deere, Hy-Vee, University of Iowa, General Mills, Jones County and the City of Cedar Rapids.
“But I only got to see snapshots of those projects. That was odd for me; not to see the projects from start to finish,” Boldt said.
As Tipton’s city manager, Boldt was involved in several municipal capital improvements, including multi-million dollar water and wastewater system upgrades, building a fire station and an award-winning community aquatic center, and numerous big-ticket street repairs, in addition to obtaining over $1 million in public and private grants to assist with costs.
“I’ve always thought I’ve been a really good manager of people and processes. I’m organized. I’m a big-picture guy,” Boldt said
City councils are also charged with keeping the big picture in focus, he added, while city staff and administration are responsible for handling the day-to-day operations.
Therefore, Boldt said, he is a big fan of annual goal setting sessions, followed up by quarterly meetings– three to four times a year based on the articulated goals– to make sure the big picture stays in front of everyone.
“By us doing that day-to-day stuff, that big picture is going to get brighter and brighter. We’ll all be moving in the same direction, with the same goals in mind.”
Boldt considered what might be the big picture for the future of Tiffin.
“They’ve got a good start already,” Boldt said. “I see my role as facilitating that growth in an organized manner. We have a comprehensive plan, and it looks good so far. If we have a master plan to get this community to where we think it needs to be– which is not my vision, it’s everybody’s vision– and if I can facilitate that vision, we become a really good, supportive community.”
He does recognize some challenges as Tiffin continues to grow. There is no central downtown area, it currently does not have a big commercial base, and it is without many fraternal and service organizations or local economic groups like a chamber. But Boldt believes those are things that Tiffin will likely develop over time.
“If those are the things we want to have, we are going to become a strong community in the Corridor. That’s what I want to be a part of,” said Boldt.
The other challenge, he said, was to make sure Tiffin remains fiscally strong as it continues to grow.
“Obviously there is a big financial component to all of it, and we have to be sure we are ready for it. We can’t overextend ourselves, but we have to be ready to jump in when assistance from the city is needed,” Boldt said.
Boldt’s impressions of Tiffin since working alongside Interim City Administrator Tim Long, who took over the reins when former administrator Michon Jackson moved to Florida in February, are already very favorable, from the city staff to the large number of residents who attend city council meetings.
“There is a good group of people here. I’ve been impressed with all of them,” he said. And his impressions of the town itself follow suit. “It’s a busy community, with obviously lots of construction and development going on. It’s nice, it’s clean, it’s well put-together as far as how it has been planned and how connections have been made within the community. There is a nice flow to Tiffin that brings you in and takes you out in all four directions. Not every city has that.”
Moving forward, Boldt said, one priority is to be available to everyone in the community, and to make himself visible there.
“Call, come in, anything like that. I like to get out and see what is going on, where the action is. I’m not the kind of guy who sits behind the desk for eight hours a day and wonders where the time goes.”
Rather, he said, he is thrilled to be where things are happening.
“This is exactly what I wanted, to be where I could be part of a dynamic group that is looking out for the greater good, where there is a challenge and I could be part of the process to make for a better community,” he said. But he emphasized his philosophy; that growing a village actually takes a village.
“That’s not singular; I’m just part of the process and part of the team that’s going to do that– the whole community. It’s a joint interest, between the community and the city and the schools, we all have a vested interest,” he concluded. “Success breeds success. And there’s a lot of success going on right here, I think.”