Public works director will be a manager ‘in the trenches’

The Jefferson city council at its Nov. 24 meeting approved adding a salaried position of public works director.

The director will answer directly to the city administrator. The director’s duties are considerable, including planning; budgeting; project supervision; staff performance evaluations; coordinating projects involving federal, state and local funding; responding to questions and complaints from the public; formulating short and long range plans; and more.

The list of equipment the director must be able to use ranges from sewer cleaning equipment and electrical welding equipment to a fax machine and even a dictionary. In addition, the director must be able to write or edit articles for publication and be able to prepare and deliver lectures.

The education required is a high school diploma or equivalent, but the director must also be able to obtain a wastewater treatment certification and water plant operator certification.

Shannon Black is on the council’s wage and benefits committee. She said the committee determined this is a good time to add the position. “It creates another layer in there, more of a working manager getting some leadership involved, a little more ‘in the trenches’ in all departments. With some of the retirements we have right now it makes sense, and the funding is there now to do it,” Black said.

Council members Lisa Jaskey, Gary Von Ahsen and Harry Ahrenholtz all commented in support of the new position, saying the director could work toward creating efficiencies between the street, water, wastewater and parks departments. “There’s an opportunity to coordinate among our departments that probably doesn’t exist without this position,” Ahrenholtz said.

Council member Larry Teeples disagreed. “I don’t think with the size of our city that we need it. I think it’s a lot of expense and we need to look at the budget and see where the money is coming from,” he said.

The annual salary is pegged at $59,000 to $68,000. The public works director will be the second highest paid city employee, second only to the city administrator.

Council members Black, Jaskey, Von Ahsen and Ahrenholtz voted in favor adding the position. Teeples voted against it.

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