A woman with nearly 25 years experience helping to run one of Oakland County’s most popular and successful cities was interviewed last week for the vacant manager position in Oxford Village.
For nearly 40 minutes, Jaynmarie C. Hubanks talked about her history, her accomplishments and answered questions during a special council meeting held Oct. 4.
Hubanks worked for the City of Ferndale from 1989 until her retirement in August 2013. She did consulting work for the city for six months following her retirement.
She’s no stranger to multi-tasking or wearing many hats. She started out as Ferndale’s finance director and over the years, added assistant city manager and treasurer to her list of roles.
“As I was promoted at Ferndale, my old jobs followed me,” explained Hubanks, and because of this, she learned how to make things run efficiently, so she could do the work of three people, yet “stay focused” and “stay sane.”
“I had to be an expert at streamlining because there (were) a lot of things that needed to be done and the buck stopped here,” she said.
Hubanks told council she has “a number of municipal skills,” but her background is strongest in the areas of budgeting/finance and human resources.
Prior to Ferndale, she worked for the University of Detroit from 1983-89. Her positions included assistant controller, loan collections supervisor and office assistant to the bursar.
She has a Master of Business Administration in finance/accounting from the University of Detroit and a bachelor’s degree in small business management from Ferris State University.
Hubanks is currently a resident of New Baltimore, but she is in the process of moving to Columbus Township, where she owns and operates a “very small farm.”
When it comes to supervising and managing staff, Hubanks believes in encouraging “people to own their job.”
“I like people to feel good about their job,” she said. “I think if people feel good about their job, they do a better job.”
“I feel that I’ve done a fairly good job rearranging staff, sometimes, to put people in places where their strengths are,” she noted. “But once they’re placed in those jobs, I like to let them do their jobs.”
Hubanks noted she believes in giving employees whatever they need to succeed in terms of guidance, tools, knowledge, classes and training.
Council asked Hubanks about her ability to handle the major reconstruction of M-24, from sidewalk to sidewalk, that the Michigan Department of Transportation is planning for 2019. The project will run from the Oxford/Orion border at the southern end of the township to Harriet St., just north of the village. It will involve all of downtown Oxford.
She said the most important thing is “to walk the streets and tell people that this is coming” and provide them with all the necessary information regarding every aspect, from the construction schedule to parking.
Hubanks indicated she would have no problem partnering with the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) on this project.
“I have seen where DDAs and the funding city don’t get along well and that doesn’t work,” she said. “They have to work alongside (each other) and work cooperatively on projects and issues or else, it doesn’t work out well.”
Hubanks said she’s tenacious when it comes to attacking challenges and tackling tasks. “I can’t let problems go until I fix them,” she said. “It’s just a thing with me. I can’t let an issue go. I’ll keep thinking about it and figuring it out.”
When it comes to grant writing, Hubanks said she has “a lot of experience.”
“All of the grants had to come through me at Ferndale,” she explained, because she knew how to “clean up” any problems in the applications in order to increase their odds of success.
She also wrote a grant that secured a fire truck for the City of Inkster when her husband was the fire chief. He’s now retired.
Hubanks has a wealth of experience in terms of labor negotiations.
During her time with Ferndale, she “favorably settled” collective bargaining agreements with seven labor units, according to her resume.
“You’re not going to make everybody happy” when negotiating a contract, she said, but both sides should be able to walk away from the bargaining table with “respect” for each other.”
“To me, there should be more (of) the philosophy of getting to ‘yes’ (through) negotiation,” Hubanks said. “You give up some, I give up some. You get some, I get some.”
Hubanks believes in maintaining an open line of communication with the public and keeping citizens informed.
“I think the more information (that’s) out (there), the better,” she said.
“I always say, the first thing is keep the door open – let people know you’re here and they can call and ask questions,” Hubanks said.
If offered the manager position, council asked Hubanks how soon she could start.
“Certainly, the sticky wicket that I didn’t anticipate when I applied (to Oxford) was Royal Oak. It really is much worse (there) than I anticipated,” she replied.
Since August, Hubanks has been working as a treasury consultant for the city.
She was called in by the Royal Oak manager because there was an “emergency” in the treasurer’s office. Both the treasurer and water billing clerk went on leave.
“They’ve had 100 percent turnover in the department in the last year. And so, it’s quite chaotic,” she noted.
What was supposed to be a short-term gig is taking much longer than expected.
“Now I know that city managers are not particularly credible because he told me I would be there two to three weeks and it’s been two months and there’s no end in sight,” Hubanks said.
Given this, Hubanks told council, “I would find it hard to be out of there in less than three weeks or a month.”
Just hours before press time on Tuesday, the Leader learned that Hubanks removed herself from consideration for the manager position.
When contacted, she cited her current temporary job in Royal Oak as the reason.
She didn’t feel right about leaving the city treasurer’s office in the lurch considering how short-handed it is.
The Royal Oak treasurer’s office is normally staffed by five people – two are currently on leave, one is preparing to go on maternity leave and the other two have limited experience – one has worked there for a year, while the other has been there only two weeks.
Given the situation, Hubanks felt it only right to “remove myself from the process” with regard to the village’s manager search.
“It’s the most incredibly bad timing for me,” Hubanks said. “I was very excited about the opportunity in Oxford. I loved the community.