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Lawton adds second assistant city manager

LAWTON, Okla._A shakeup at Lawton City Hall has led to the creation of another assistant city manager position, and a redefining of their new roles and responsibilities.

After evaluating its infrastructure over the past two years, the city's management office has decided to move former Director of Public Works, Jerry Ihler into a second assistant management position.

Under his new role, Ihler will oversee the city's operations which will cover streets, sewer, water and trash.

Current Assistant City Manager Jim Russell will head the administrative side; focusing on human resources, internal auditing, and IT; the police and fire departments will also report to him.

Russell said the changes benefit both city employees and the citizens of Lawton.

"This just allows someone to give more specific oversight, on more of a continuum," he Russell said.

Russell said this division of power will also allow the city manager to be more proactive about larger problems affecting the city like finding alternate water sources.

Since Ihler will no longer be overseeing the Public Works Department the city has decided to separate it into three divisions: general public works, water/wastewater, and engineering.

"When you go out to find somebody to replace a director like that, you don't ever find anybody who has the same skill set and the same knowledge bank," Russell said.

In the absence of City Manager Bryan Long, who was placed on administrative leave last week following an investigation by OSBI, Russell will also be responsible for the completion of the 2016 fiscal year budget.

"I'm working with the finance director and the assistant city manager of operations and the three of us are working to get the budget together and will be presenting it in his absence. If he comes back before then, then it will be back in his hands," Russell said.

Russell said the budget is on schedule to be presented to the city council at next Tuesday's meeting.

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