Steve Powers, the newly hired city administrator, will make the switch from overseeing a county in the Upper Peninsula to looking after operations in Ann Arbor when he begins his new position on Thursday.

Powers will take the place of Roger Fraser, who left the city in April to work in the state Department of Treasury. Powers, who most recently served as county administrator in Marquette County in the Upper Peninsula, said one of his primary tasks as Ann Arbor’s city administrator will be ensuring the city continues to operate effectively despite city budget cuts.

In an interview yesterday, Powers said though this will be his first job as a city administrator, he’s confident that he has gained extensive experience for the job through his work as a county administrator.

“The similarities between city and county management are greater than the differences,” Powers said. “It’s working with people, it’s working with budgets, it’s providing services.”

Still, Powers said he wants to learn more about the needs of Ann Arbor residents.

“I’m going to be taking the first 100 days to listen and observe,” he said.

Powers noted that Ann Arbor, like many municipalities across the state, has been forced to make budget cuts recently. For the 2012 fiscal year, the Ann Arbor police and fire departments will have to cut 30 positions, though most of them aren’t filled currently. As a result, the department expects to lay off two firefighters and four police officers.

Enabling city departments to fulfill their responsibilities under difficult financial conditions will be a strenuous part of the job, Powers said.

“Having the resources available or the tools necessary to do the work … is the challenge that I will have as administrator working with those departments,” Powers said. “That will be a challenge. I think that the foundation is there for the city to build upon what has been an award-winning community.”

During his time in Marquette County, which is home to Northern Michigan University, Powers created an internship program for NMU students to experience local government firsthand.

“I’d like to do the same here,” said Powers, adding that it is important to him that students have a voice in the city’s affairs.

Powers said his management style doesn’t embody the “CEO-like” overseer approach that many people expect from a city manager. Rather, Powers noted that in Marquette County, he worked directly with department heads and entry-level city employees alike to understand their concerns.

“I really had to work in a facilitative approach to first of all see what their needs were, their issues were, then to have them better understand what I was trying to do,” Powers said.

When asked about the most difficult decision he made as a county administrator, Powers said he had to lay off several sheriff’s deputies while working in Marquette County due to budget concerns — something he may need to do in Ann Arbor because of the city’s financial situation. He said it was particularly difficult informing the officers about their termination.

“It’s affecting someone’s livelihood,” Powers said.

— Kinnard Hockenhull contributed to this report.

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