Allison Serving as Interim Public Works Director
City Manager Rick Eckert plans to make a recommendation for the permanent position at the July 18 City Council meeting.
Buddy Allison with Croy Engineering, the city’s engineering firm, is serving as interim Public Works director until someone permanent is hired.
City Manager Rick Eckert said between 15 and 20 applications were turned in by the June 30 deadline, and he hopes to have a recommendation to present to the City Council for approval at the July 18 meeting.
Out of the applicants, there are “three to four good solid candidates,” the city manager said.
“I’ll do three interviews and hope to have that done by next week, and then I’m ready to make an announcement—assuming we can come to grips with salary and things,” he said.
The Public Works director and the department’s 26-person staff oversees the city’s water, sanitation, sewer and streets.
Eckert noted the ease of the transition from the former director, Rodger Swaim, because he gave the city his retirement notice months in advance. Swaim, whose last day was June 30, told Patch last month that, if needed, he will help the new director in the job.
“I’d be more than glad to help that person get started and show them the ropes,” he said, noting that he left some guide sheets about his work. “I’ll make myself available at any time if they need help to get through some rough times.”
The next director will keep Swaim’s salary of $74,200, Eckert said. With that money already part of this fiscal year’s budget, which started July 1, Allison is receiving the same pay until the permanent director starts, he added.
Eckert said he plans to work with the next director on restructuring the duties of the department’s employees but not in a way that will result in job losses. His previous suggestions of outsourcing the city’s water, sewer and sanitation to the City Council to save money are more long-term possibilities, he added.
One of the hardest issues the next director will face, Eckert said, is keeping up with “unfunded mandates” regarding environmental regulations.
“We’re stuck with eating the costs with all these massive federal and state regulations that there’s no money to cover," he said, “and … with the economy the way it is, you can’t charge people more and more and more for services they don’t get to fulfill some required regulations. It’s not a service; it’s a rule and a regulation that has no visible impact on something for the money they’re paying out.”
One thing that will help offset the costs is the upcoming monthly storm water fee, which will likely be between $2 and $4. The ordinance behind the fee has been approved by the City Council, but a dollar amount hasn’t yet been attached to it.
Eckert said it will probably be closer to $2.