VA: Kim Payne, City of Lynchburg, City Manager

Posted on May 5, 2014

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What do we hope to learn from this series? We hope you will gain a better understanding of the unique characteristics of local government in each state, we hope you will learn that there are others like you who are motivated to make a difference through the public sector, and we hope you will learn that it is best to learn from others’ mistakes than yours.

Our Take on the Commonwealth

The 50 Nifty returns to the Commonwealth of Virginia. We visited Chris Morrill, Roanoke (VA) city manager on our first visit and today we head 56 miles NE to learn hear from Kim Payne, Lynchburg (VA) city manager.

images (1)Virginia is one of the four Commonwealths in the United States, the others being Kentucky, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania. The main thing we know about Virginia is that it is historic, everything about it is historic. Civil War battlefields, Colonial Williamsburg, Jamestown Settlement, Robert E. Lee’s horse, College of William and Mary, and the Dave Matthews Band (ok, maybe not the last one).

So naturally we find our nicest colonial jorts and retro Virginia Tech tank top as we meet up with Kim Payne. ELGL board member and Lynchburg deputy city manager Bonnie Svrcek connected us with Kim. If you have ever met Bonnie, you know the importance of Kim in her career.

Before we learn about local government in Virginia, we’ll provide you with a Cliff Notes version of all things Virginia. The first thing you need to know “Virginia is for Lovers.” You can make an individual interpretation of what that means, just know that you will find t-shirts, bumper stickers, and fanny packs with the slogan.

images (2)Also known as the “Old Dominion” state and “Mother of Presidents” state due to the most U.S. presidents having been born there. (Although as we learned in our Ohio visit they also stake claim to the nickname, maybe they can flip an historic penny to solve the debate once in for all.)

The capital of the Commonwealth is Richmond; Virginia Beach is the most populous city, and Fairfax County is the most populous political subdivision. The Commonwealth’s estimated population is 8,260,405 as of 2013. 

The Virginia General Assembly is the oldest continuous law-making body in the New World. The state government has been repeatedly ranked most effective by the Pew Center on the States. It is unique in how it treats cities and counties equally, manages local roads, and prohibits its governors from serving consecutive terms. Virginia’s economy has many sectors: agriculture in the Shenandoah Valley; federal agencies in Northern Virginia, including the headquarters of the Department of Defense and CIA; and military facilities in Hampton Roads, the site of the region’s main seaport. Virginia’s economy transitioned from primarily agricultural to industrial during the 1960′s and 1970′s, and in 2002 computer chips became the state’s leading export.

What kind of crazy laws does the Commonwealth live by? Here are a few:

Culpeper: No one may wash a mule on the sidewalk.

Norfolk: Spitting on a sea gull is not tolerated.

Richmond: It is illegal to flip a coin in a restaurant to see who pays for a coffee.

Virginia Beach: If you are drunk and not driving your car, and the person who is driving the car is drunk as well, you may both receive DUI’s.

Waynesboro: It is illegal for a woman to drive a car up Main Street unless her husband is walking in front of the car waving a red flag.

Background Check on Kim

Kim Payne photo-205x274

Connect: LinkedIn

L. Kimball Payne III, (“Kim”) became Lynchburg City Manager in February 2001.  Previously, he served as the County Administrator of Spotsylvania County, Virginia, from February 1987 to February 2001.  Prior to that he served as Assistant County Administrator in Spotsylvania from February 1984 to February 1987.

Mr. Payne holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Duke University and Master of Planning and Master of Arts in Public Administration degrees from the University of Virginia.  He has attended the Senior Executive Institute at the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service at the University of Virginia.  Mr. Payne is an Adjunct Professor at Virginia Tech in the Public Administration program.

Mr. Payne is a retired Commander in the Naval Reserve.  He completed nearly eight years of active duty as a Naval Flight Officer with his last assignment as a Naval ROTC Instructor at the University of Virginia.  He is a member of the International City-County Management Association (ICMA) and a Past President of the Virginia Local Government Manager’s Association (VLGMA).  Mr. Payne serves on boards of a number of regional agencies including the Lynchburg Regional Chamber of Commerce the Region 2000 Services Authority and the Region 2000 Local Government Council, Economic Development Council and Metropolitan Planning Organization.

Background Check on Lynchburg

Connect: Facebook, Twitter, World Wide Web, and YouTube

The City of Lynchburg (population 75,568) is known as the “City of Seven Hills” or “The Hill City.” Lynchburg is the principal city of the Metropolitan Statistical Area of Lynchburg, near the geographic center of Virginia. It is the fifth largest MSA in Virginia with a population of 246,036.Lynchburg’s sister cities are Rueil-Malmaison, France and Glauchau, Germany.

Lynchburg is the home of Central Virginia Community College, Liberty University, Lynchburg College, Randolph College, and Virginia University of Lynchburg. The Lynchburg MSA also includes Sweet Briar College.

The largest employers in Lynchburg are Centra Health, Liberty University, Areva, and Genworth Financial.

Notab12les from Lynchburg

Leslie Bibb, American actress (Crossing JordanTalladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby)

dc TalkGrammy-awarding winning Christian rock band

Jerry Falwell,  senior pastor of Thomas Road Baptist Church

Elizabeth Tyler, daughter of U.S. President John Tyler

Phil Vassar, country music singer-songwriter and pianist

 Lightning Round

Best piece of advice from your parents.

Don’t do something just because everyone else is doing it.

In a dream world, which bands would headline your retirement party?

The Allman Brothers Band, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young; The Beatles.

(Complete the sentence) Before I die I want to…..

….meet my great grandchildren.

Three most influential books in your (1)

  • The Bible
  • Small is Beautiful
  • Design with Nature

If you could FaceTime with five people (dead or alive and not including family members), who would be on the list? 

  • Martin Luther King
  • Abraham Lincoln
  • Robert E. Lee
  • Thomas Jefferson
  • Benjamin Franklin

Describe the inside of your car. 

Not bad; a couple of umbrellas and ball caps; a blanket and some reusable grocery bags; a bunch of quarters in the cup holder; an adaptor to play iTunes through the radio, connections for XM Radio; some dirt and debris on the floor.

What’s the meaning of life? 

Being of service to others.

Q & A


Give us three bullet points that best describe local government in your state.

  • Professional
  • Responsive
  • Dealing with the burden of unfunded mandates.

We’ll assume you didn’t grow up dreaming about a career in local government. What was your dream job as a 12-year old? What was your first local government job? How did you end up in local government?download (2)

  • I can’t remember having a dream job as a 12-year old…probably to be a professional baseball player.
  • My first job in local government was as the Assistant County Administrator in Spotsylvania, Virginia.
  • I ended up in local government because when I got off of active duty in the Navy I wanted to continue to be of service and I wanted to stay in Virginia.  I met with the former city manager of my home town, whose daughter I had gone to high school with, and asked him about local government management.  He sold me.

Give us your top three career accomplishments.

  • Mitigation and redevelopment of the world’s largest cellophane manufacturing facility into a modern industrial park.
  • Developing a plan to finance the renovations of the city stadium to keep minor league baseball in the City.
  • Twenty-seven years as a local government manager without being fired.

We often learn from our mistakes. Name one or two career mistakes that you have made that you think we could learn from.


Losing one’s temper with elected officials and telling them exactly what you think of them at the moment is probably not conducive to a long tenure.

Our experience has been many of our friends, family, and neighbors are not well versed in what it is we do in local government, many think we are a “planner” or “mayor”. Has this been your experience?

In my career, folks have generally had an idea of what I have done.  Actually, we are many things, planner, policy maker, implementer, etc.  Explaining what we do and how is a fun part of the job.

How can local governments better communicate their role in the everyday lives of the community?



I think that the best way is to continue to provide excellent services and to be there when things go wrong.

Would you encourage your family and friends to consider a career in local government?

Yes, absolutely.

Hypothetically, if we find ourselves interviewing for a job in front of you, talk about three steps we can take to make a good (3)

Proofread your resume and cover letter.  If you don’t pay attention to detail in these important documents it speaks poorly of your attention to detail in other matters.

Know something about the community and its challenges and tell me how you can be of value.

Ask intelligent questions about the community, the organization and the job.

Mentoring is such an important part of local government. Name three of your mentors.

The Spotsylvania County Administrator under whom I was the assistant was my most important mentor.  I haven’t had other significant mentors but have sought the advice of other local government managers and have encouraged by deputies and department heads to give me honest feedback and advice.

(Complete the sentence) In 2018, local government will be ……

……more important than ever in building and supporting communities in which individuals and families can thrive.

What question(s) should we have asked you?

What do I do when I am not working?  I enjoy spending time with family, fishing, hiking, gardening and reading.

Supplemental Reading

Lynchburg is no Detroit, Nor Will It Be

Kim Payne ..Spotsylvania County Administrator

A busy first month…

Kim Payne & Bonnie Svrcek’s How We Manage Presentation

Life as a Local Government Manager: It’s Who We Are

Resetting the 50 Nifty Project

50 Nifty Profiles


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