Features

Jeff Scheetz – City of Avondale, Arizona

City CIO helps government work for citizens

Jeff Scheetz likes to joke that he moved from his native Colorado to Avondale, Arizona, to escape the snow.

He’s done that, although it also means he left some of his favorite fishing streams behind when he became chief information officer for the city of 89,334 that’s on the western boundary of Phoenix.

Jeff Scheetz – City of Avondale, Arizona

Jeff Scheetz | Chief Information Officer | City of Avondale, Arizona

However, Scheetz also came to Avondale in 2017 for the opportunity to guide IT in a larger city than Montrose, Colorado. In six years, he and his team of 27 have guided efforts to help Avondale’s 18 municipal departments operate more efficiently and effectively while expanding how citizens can interact and work with city hall.

“Working in IT in government requires a wide breadth of knowledge and carrying out a lot of tasks,” Scheetz says. “It’s IT’s job to bring in the tools that can be leveraged throughout the departments and stay cost conscious.”

In the office, out in the field

Originally called Coldwater because of the Agua Fria River and water that flowed from a local spring, Avondale was settled in the late 1860s. It took its current name in the early 20th century and was incorporated as a city in 1946.

Avondale is governed by Mayor Kenn Weise, Vice Mayor Mike Pineda and a five-member city council. Administratively, the city is led by City Manager Ron Corbin.

Jeff Scheetz – City of Avondale, Arizona

The IT team’s responsibilities include maintaining the systems monitoring wastewater treatment facilities, the software used by the finance and budget department to collect revenue and manage the treasury, and the specialized technology used 24/7 by the police and fire departments.

Scheetz says his team has spent a lot of time in the field working with departments including public works and police. They provide portable laptops and tablets and install internet hot spots and networking devices at remote sites to provide real-time information and data. His team also recently deployed 5G managed devices on traffic signals that were not connected to the network.

Transparent efforts

He and his team also strive to keep the public-facing side of city government transparent and make it easier for citizens to stay informed and be served. As he chatted with Toggle in July, he’d recently overseen the successful launch of enhanced and improved recording and streaming city council meetings.

The city had been using Zoom to broadcast meetings since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Because city management wants to be more transparent, the city clerk, marketing and public relations, and IT team began working to improve streaming and cable TV public access broadcasting services in 2022. They installed five cameras in council chambers while making agendas and meeting information more accessible online.

Jeff Scheetz – City of Avondale, Arizona

During the pandemic, the IT team also boosted connectivity and accessibility by adding Wi-Fi outdoors at city facilities including three parks and the Avondale Visitor & Conference Center. The Center is also home to several city departments.

Scheetz and the IT team collaborated with marketing and public relations teams to implement Avondale Connect, a public engagement portal. Information posted there includes ongoing city events and initiatives, as well as detours or delays caused by road or public works projects and updates on the construction of the city’s new aquatic center. Public comment is also accepted from citizens who register.

With the start of the new fiscal year in July, Scheetz and the IT team will be automating the process for applying for or renewing business licenses by expanding the software already in use by city planners and engineers.

“Our goal is to provide better services to our citizens,” Scheetz says. “But I have also seen the IT team grow while supporting the growth of the city.”

A wide spectrum

Scheetz’s career began in the private sector after he earned his bachelor’s degree in computer science from Colorado Mesa University in 1993.

He joined MCI Corp., which provided long-distance calling services, as a senior programmer and worked with mainframe computers and PCs. While there, he earned two patents for programs he developed.

In August 1997, Scheetz joined FedEx Services as a technical principal where he led and managed large-scale projects, hired staff and contractors, and developed software in three languages. While at FedEx Services, Scheetz also earned his MBA from Colorado Technical University (where he was also an instructor from 2007 to 2011).

Jeff Scheetz – City of Avondale, Arizona

Scheetz began working in city government when he became director of IT in Montrose, Colorado, in March 2007. While serving there, he was also vice chair and then chair of the Colorado Government Association of Information Technology.

Since his arrival in Avondale, Scheetz has also been certified as a government chief information officer by the Public Technology Institute and Rutgers University.

The work he and the IT team have done has drawn recognition, too. In 2022, Avondale placed first in the Center for Digital Government’s Technology Digital Cities Survey for its strategic plan performance dashboard that allows residents to follow progress on the city’s five-year goals. Since Scheetz joined the city government, it has been in the survey’s top 10 annually.

“I like the broad spectrum of the public sector, it’s never just one specific job,” Scheetz says. “We have an incredible team here, and for me, it’s important to keep learning and helping. It’s what drives me.”

View this feature in the Fall I 2023 Edition here.

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