Dayton eliminates public works superintendent position

By Megan Hopps

SUN PRESS Newspapers

 

The Dayton City Council voted 4-1 to restructure the Public Works Department and eliminate the superintendent position.

The council also approved the purchase agreement for the new Public Works facility, and reviewed the concerns raised in open forum.

 

Public Works Restructure

During the last 12 months, staff and the council have implemented numerous cost cutting measures. Among the council’s top goals for the 2014 year, maintaining a flat or decreased levy and improving customer service top that list. To further these goals, city staff has made a recommendation to restructure the Public Works Department.

In an effort to save costs, city staff has recommended the elimination of the Public Works Superintendent position, appointing a “Public Works Lead” and reallocating some of the duties to the city engineer and city administrator. The lead maintenance worker would perform the job duties of the other maintenance workers, and also supervise the day to day work of the public works staff and provide regular updates to the city engineer and administration. The proposal states:

“Because we are reducing the full-time staff, it is recommended that an additional summer seasonal worker for mowing and other labor be hired in 2015.”

The addition of one to two snowplow operators in the winter was also recommended.

From a financial standpoint, this will save the city approximately $88,500 annually. To employ a Public Works Superintendent (with benefits) typically costs $126,500 per year. To compensate the city engineer for added duties costs $18,000 yearly and to promote a lead maintenance worker and add seasonal and contract labor workers will cost the city approximately $20,000. This savings represents 3.1 percent of the general fund budget. If $88,500 in savings was applied to reducing the levy, this would show a 3.5 percent decrease in the overall tax levy.

“My concern is that what if you don’t end up saving that much, especially considering all the other money you’re going to have spent with all the new equipment and the facility,” said resident Mark Carlson. “Now you’ve only got one person with a sewer water license working here and we can’t have that with all the sewer and water we have. And now you’re going to need more people and you’re going to have to train for that and pay for those licenses.”

“I see it as my job to get you guys the resources you need to get the expectations of our residents met,” said Interim City Administrator Bob Derus. “And I think there’s some of that gap that hasn’t been met. We don’t have the equipment nor do we have the public works facility to get that done. Is the structure of the public works department going to stay like this forever? No. Is it the best option for the city right now? I believe so.”

“We’re going to try to take that money and see to it that it’s reinvested into the Public Works department whether that’s getting people the right training, getting additional bodies, the right equipment, facilities what ever it takes to get the highest input possible,” said Mayor Tim McNeil.

The council voted 4 to 1 to pass the restructuring of the public works department; councilor Scott Salonek opposed the change.

“Rick, this is the toughest thing I’ve ever had to do,” said Mayor McNeil. “You’re one of the best employees I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with. I’m sorry about this.”

The mayor was referring to public works director Rick Hass, who was laid off as a result of the council’s vote.

 

Other

Council and staff also:

HEARD from resident Doug Baines who spoke in open forum to voice his concerns about the public works discussion and work that’s been taking place in council work sessions. “I’m becoming concerned about the work sessions,” Baines said. “The work sessions take a particular subject and reduce it down to strictly a resolution at the council meeting so it can be voted on immediately and moved on. I don’t think that’s healthy government.”

ACCEPTED the purchase agreement from John and Carole Ampe for the public works site. The city advertised and opened bids for the purchase of property for the Public Works Facility. The Ampes own the property located on Zanzibar Lane in Dayton. The bid amount was $12,000 per acre and the property is 19 acres.

CHANGED the city council meeting day. Due to a scheduling conflict, Dayton city staff and council will no longer meet the second and fourth Tuesday of the month, but on Wednesday nights for the remainder of the calendar year.

 

Contact Megan Hopps at megan.hopps@ecm-inc.com

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