Utility commssion, city agree on public works promotions

It was a unanimous consensus by the New Prague City Council and the Utilities Commission to look at promoting the city’s two supervisors to manager level positions. The decision came during a special Wednesday, Feb. 6, joint meeting of the two groups.

Electric Operations Supervisor Bruce Reimers and Maintenance Supervisor Glen Sticha won’t immediately be promoted. There will be research into the proposal, plus the need for additional staff.

The city’s Public Works Director Dennis Seurer retired October 31, 2012. The city decided now would be a good time to examine the organization of the Public Works Department and consider changes. The council and Utilities Commission had the city’s engineering firm Short Elliott Hendrickson (S.E.H.) Inc. do a report reviewing the department’s organization. Both organizations were presented the report in January.

In the report there were three recommendations. Besides the one chosen, the other two were:

• Find a new public works director and keep the position as it currently exits

• Reconfigure the position to a Public Services Director and promote the supervisors to managers

Council member Dave Bruzek noted that in five to 10 years the city may want to have a public works director who has a civil engineer’s degree. Utilities Commission President Chuck Wann asked if that was necessary? He wasn’t opposed to having someone with a civil engineer background down the road, but the city has a lot of needs that have to be met first. Among them is expanding the public works staff.

Bruzek agreed that they needed more employees in every department. He also said they wouldn’t find someone with Seurer’s background to fill the public works director position.

Commission members Dick Jordan and Paul Busch agreed with Wann. Busch said the economy would have to improve and it would likely be a few years before they needed a civil engineer.Reimers and Sticha felt comfortable and confident with things, but they did agree that staffing has to be looked at. Sticha said he could take on more responsibility, but he would need the proper staff underneath him. "There are some days I have work that can keep 10 people busy," he said.

"Things are getting done, but our staff is getting spread thinner," said Reimers.

Council member Shawn Ryan asked about the cost.

City Administrator Mike Johnson said there were funds set aside in the budget. They would have to look at the needs and consider the assets of the promotions and increasing the staff.

The consensus was that the next step was to research the proposed changes and bring back recommendations to the council and commission.