September 22, 2021
After a distinguished 20-year career with the City of Lee’s Summit, City Manager Stephen Arbo has announced his retirement, effective September 2022.
Arbo has more than 35 years of experience in the public service sector. He joined the City of Lee’s Summit in 2001 as assistant city manager and was promoted to deputy city administrator in 2005. In 2008, he was appointed city manager by City Council. At 13 years as city manager, Arbo has served three mayors and is the second longest serving city manager in the City’s history. Before coming to Lee’s Summit, Arbo served as the city manager for the City of Liberty Mo. and served in various administrative roles in several suburbs in West St. Louis County, Mo.
“It has been an honor to serve such an outstanding community. I am grateful to the elected leaders, fellow employees and citizens who have given time and energy to our efforts together,” Arbo said. “Lee’s Summit is an incredible place that has allowed me to grow professionally and has become ’home’ for my family.”
As city manager, Arbo oversees approximately 786 employees and is responsible for the delivery of all City services, including development, human resources, public works, finance, public safety, water utilities and technology. During his tenure, the City achieved a Aaa bond rating, the top national ranking available by Moody’s Investors Services. He increased the City’s operating reserves to $23 million to ensure economic stability during times of fiscal strain.
Arbo has built strategic relationships with the City’s community partners such as the Economic Development Council, Chamber of Commerce and Downtown Lee’s Summit Main Street. He played a significant role in numerous large development projects, including Summit Woods, Summit Fair, Summit Technology Campus, New Longview, Streets of West Pryor, Summit Orchard and the revitalization of Lee’s Summit’s historic downtown.
Under Arbo’s leadership, the City has received many regional and national awards for its quality of services. Lee’s Summit has been designated a Bicycle Friendly Community, Walk Friendly Community and Community for All Ages. The City of Lee’s Summit is one of only 10 cities in the nation to hold four national accreditations for its Fire, Parks and Recreation, Police and Public Works services.
Arbo serves as the Missouri co-chair of the Regional Homeland Security Coordinating Committee for the Mid-America Regional Council and received their Regional Leadership Award in June 2021 alongside City Manager Bill Ebel of Overland Park. He was named the Public Administrator of the Year by the Greater Kansas City Chapter of ASPA and the 2011 Downtown Champion by Downtown Lee’s Summit Main Street. Arbo was the recipient of the University of Central Missouri Student Government Association’s Excellence in Governance Award.
“Steve has helped guide our City through many complex issues over the past two decades while maintaining exceptional City services, ensuring our citizens enjoy the finest quality of life now and in the future,” said Mayor Bill Baird. “He is a highly respected municipal leader and has built collaborative partnerships in our region that have greatly benefited our City and will leave a lasting legacy. We wish Steve the best in his well-earned retirement. He will be dearly missed.”
Arbo chose to announce his retirement a year in advance to allow time for a smooth transition of leadership. He will continue to oversee the operation of the City, as directed by the mayor and City Council, through September 2022. The city manager position is directly appointed by the City Council. Mayor Baird and the City Council will soon begin discussions on the process of selecting the next city manager.