City to reorganize utilities, public works departments

There are changes coming for the city’s public works and utilities departments as the New Prague City Council unanimously authorized a reorganization at its Monday, April 1, meeting.

The plan moves two employees into manager positions. Electric Operations Supervisor Bruce Reimers will oversee the city’s utilities and Maintenance Supervisor Glen Sticha will take care of the public works.

Public Works Director Dennis Seurer had directed both departments. He retired from the position on October 31, 2012. The council and the Utilities Commission had the city’s engineering firm of Short Elliott Hendrickson (S.E.H.) Inc. do a public works organizational review report, which was presented in January. After discussing the three options presented, the council and the Utilities Commission chose on February 6 to promote Sticha and Reimers to managers. Since then city staff has been working on developing a re-organizational model.

The changes will require the addition of staff due to future retirements, the re-alignment of duties and the creation of foreman positions. The foremen will come from current staff and they will be internal promotions. Currently there will only need to be the addition of one employee to public works. An additional electric lineman will need to be added, but it is a decision that can be deferred and evaluated when the city prepares its 2014 budget.

City Administrator Mike Johnson informed the council he had met with the Utilities Commission during its meeting. The commission recommended accepting the changes and moving forward with the changes.

Johnson said as part of the changes they will look at cross department training. This is one item that was done before, as there was the sharing of staff between departments.

Johnson estimated it would take four to six months to implement the changes. The city had budgeted $207,567 for the replacement of its public works director and possible staff changes. To do the recommended staff changes it was estimated it would cost $101,564.

Johnson said the city will need to do a study to update and create new job descriptions and create a new compensation system. Ann S. Antonsen, vice president of Springsted Inc., proposed to do the classification and compensation study for approximately $15,875.

Council member Shawn Ryan asked if the city needed to do the study. Johnson said they have job descriptions that are incomplete. Council member Pat Scripture noted that it has been long overdue for them to update their job descriptions.

The council unanimously approved the reorganization changes and the study to be done by Springsted Inc.