Officials are working on a plan to restructure the city public works departments, combining the street department with the water-sewer department into one public works department.
“There is no ordinance establishing separate departments for streets and water-sewer workers,” Mayor Herb Adams said. “Absent an ordinance, we think we can create a more efficient operation by having one public works department.”
The final details are not worked out, but one department involving all public works employees would offer benefits to both the city and the employees, according to City Administrator Harold Selby.
Speaking at the Sept. 17 board of aldermen meeting, Selby said employees would be cross-trained and could work in either area of public works during emergencies, such as water main breaks or larger public works projects such as street repair.
Street employees would be able to take classes and obtain sewer licenses that could increase their pay.
The city also might save money by combining the funds of the two departments, Adams said.
At present, each department has its own budget and its own equipment. There are possible savings if both departments could use the same equipment.
Adams said he and Selby had met with Pat Lynch, a representative of Operating Engineers Local 148 AFL-CIO, which represents public works employees and Bob LaFarth, Local 148 shop steward.
“They are both supportive of the restructuring,” Adams said. “We’ll meet with them again before changes are finalized.”
Once the details are ironed out, the mayor said he would ask aldermen to approve an ordinance establishing one public works department.