Investing in employees benefits efficiency and taxpayers

When Delilah Walsh joined Las Cruces Utilities as its first assistant manager in 2019, she knew she had joined a team with a solid foundation in operations that worked well for her clients. When she took on the role of director in October 2020, Walsh knew then that she could trust employees at all levels – from deputy directors to the field team – allowing her to strengthen processes at the administrative level.

As she transitions to a position as city manager and director of utilities in Ketchikan, Alaska at the end of September, Walsh is confident that the LCU is set up to directly benefit ratepayers. And, she did it with her team throughout a global pandemic.

“I focused a lot on staff development and improving the efficiency of internal processes, because I could rely on the assistant managers to make the operational side work,” she said. “Every employee has been dedicated to serving our customers, even though the past few years have been tougher than usual.”

Walsh explained that one of his first tasks was to get his hands on all the information LCU collects, put it all in one place, and go paperless. LCU created the Management Information Systems program to do just that.

“We have so much data, from UtilityHawk to billing to field crew work orders,” Walsh said. “It’s the wave of evolution for utilities to move beyond a paper-based operation, which is cumbersome, especially if staff need the information as soon as possible in the field.”

Another more recent push will be to use hands-on technology, like drones at LCU, with an employee getting an FAA license for the task.

“If we can increase the efficiency of the backend, our productivity can increase, allowing us to not ask taxpayers as much through tariffs,” Walsh said. “We don’t need to outsource if we can use existing technology to our advantage.”

She said her background was focused on finding ways to do more with less, especially in her former role as Socorro County official.

“I’m a big proponent of investing in technology, but I’m more interested in investing in your employees,” said Walsh, who also supported the development of a staffing specialist who can prepare hiring documentation. for LCU that can be presented to the City of Las Cruces Human Resources Department more effectively. She said: “If we can take some of that administrative process off the shoulders of supervisors who know what they are looking for but don’t need the administrative burden of the process, it frees them up to be more involved in their program tasks. .”

Job rosters are now more flexible for staff entering the LCU, as duties can span across different programs so employees can be trained and given the opportunity to grow.

“It brings us closer to the ‘One Utility’ concept that allows us to have a shared service mindset,” Walsh said.

Another big project that was important to Walsh was keeping employees safe. It has created a dedicated position exclusively focused on security.

“The Security Officer position was critical to what I wanted at LCU for risk mitigation. It’s so important not only to our employees, but it’s a proactive way to ensure that incidents can be prevented and tracked, and we can establish a culture of safety across the department,” said she declared. “Different programs had different security procedures. Now one person can follow all procedures, ensure standardization and be the point of contact if an employee sees something unsafe or has an idea to create a safer environment.

Walsh was excited to introduce employees to New Mexico State University’s NM EDGE (New Mexico Education Designed to Generate Excellence in the Public Sector) program and worked to connect with them through events. in person once COVID rates subsided, such as Rodeo Skills, which allowed employees to strut on various gear for a bit of fame and glory.

“More than anything, during my time at LCU, I have seen again and again that all of our employees are committed to their jobs and to LCU,” Walsh said. “They are public servants at heart, and I’m better off for having had the time to be part of their efforts.”

Walsh sees the future looking bright for LCU, even with the upcoming transitions. “Energy transition efforts in natural gas will be a big shift in operations,” Walsh said. “We can do more with renewable energy. Even without a transition plan, LCU has already been proactive in moving in this direction. We convert methane to power our processing facility with our co-generators. We support the City’s photovoltaic efforts. Decarbonization is important and the LCU will play an important role in this process. »

LCU – Your utility connection. Customer Central can be reached at 575-541-2111 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. LCU provides clean, safe and reliable services to Las Cruces residents and businesses. Learn more about las-cruces.org/180/Utilities. For emergencies, call the dispatcher at 575-526-0500.

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