Justin Smith announced as Pelham’s new assistant city manager

Published 5:20 pm Tuesday, June 25, 2024

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By DONALD MOTTERN | Staff Writer

PELHAM – Pelham is set to welcome a new assistant city manager to city hall following an official announcement made by the city on Tuesday, June 25, that confirmed the appointment.

In that announcement, Pelham city officials confirmed that Justin Smith, who has served as the assistant to the Jefferson County manager since October 2011, had accepted the offer for the position and will assume the new position upon the conclusion of his current contract with Jefferson County.

“We are thrilled to have someone with Justin’s experience and talent in Pelham,” said Pelham City Manager Gretchen DiFante. “I’ve had the opportunity to work with Justin as a member of the Alabama City/County Management Association’s Board of Directors. He is intelligent, thoughtful and likes to get things done efficiently and effectively while maintaining his high-quality standards.”

To hire Smith and fund the new position, Pelham phased out one-and-a-half full-time equivalent positions, which were vacant at the time of their elimination.

In his role as the assistant to the Jefferson County manager, Smith managed multiple cross-functional projects that resulted in software selections, process and program efficiency improvements, increased public engagement and significant financial savings.

Smith has also worked closely with the Jefferson County Attorney’s Office in efforts to ensure that it and all county departments performed their duties in accordance with federal and state laws and that matters of ethics, open meetings, public records, public finance, employment, contracts and Alabama bid laws were all consistent and up to the standards of the law.

Prior to that work, Smith previously served as a public assistance specialist with the state of Alabama’s Emergency Management Agency and as a law clerk for the Senior Circuit for the Bessemer Division of the 10th Judicial Circuit.

In his new position, Smith will take on several large projects within the City Manager’s Office that will include software selection and implementation along with city-wide training and development efforts, large grant projects, strategic planning and city board development.

Following his completion of one full year in the role, Smith will also assume the full management of some city departments from DiFante.

Smith’s appointment comes at a time when the duties required of the City Manager’s Office have grown exponentially larger than when DiFante was first appointed to the position as Pelham’s first city manager on July 11, 2017.

DiFante shared that in the past five years, Pelham has more than doubled its number of communication vehicles, quadrupled its average number of capital projects, added three dozen new programs within the Pelham Parks and Recreation Department, received the largest Railroad Crossing Elimination grant in the nation from the Federal Railway Administration and applied for several other national and state-wide grants.

“In that same time, Pelham had $80 million in new private development, and we are not slowing down,” DiFante said. “We’ve built an outstanding leadership team full of talented, experienced professionals with servant attitudes, and Justin will fit in perfectly.”

Upon taking the position, Smith’s experience and knowledge of state law will also be utilized in the review of contracts that are currently being directed to the city attorney’s office.

Smith, who graduated from Pelham High School, has said that he enjoys bringing his four-year-old son to the increasing number of activities now available in the city and looks forward to his active role in serving the city and its teams.

“Pelham has come so far since I attended Pelham High School 25 years ago, and that growth is a testament to the organization and team that has been built,” Smith said. “Everything is top-notch and something the city should be proud of. After meeting the team in Pelham, it became clear to me that something special is going on here that I want to be part of, and I am extremely excited to have that opportunity.”

Smith will assume his new role as Pelham’s assistant city manager on the week of August 19, 2024.