By Rick Palsgrove
You see them repairing streets, fixing broken water lines, plowing snow, and performing many other tasks that keep the city functioning. They are the city of Groveport’s 12 public works employees, a department that is now going through some structural leadership changes.
“Public works (streets, water, sewer and storm) is one of the most critical departments in the city. It’s responsible for maintaining streets and roadways, clearing snow, maintaining a safe and adequate water supply and a functional and safe sanitary sewer system,” Groveport Acting City Administrator Jeff Green. “As the city continues to grow, and as we look at potential future growth outside our current boundaries, the public works department needs to grow and mature. Professional leadership and oversight has to be part of that growth.”
Groveport City Council already approved replacing the existing public works superintendent job with the new position of public service director.
Long-time public works superintendent retires
Public Works Superintendent Dennis Moore, who has worked for the city for 23 years, retired Feb. 1 and following his departure the new public service director position will then be filled.
“Dennis has been a long-time valuable employee for the city,” said Mayor Lance Westcamp.
Moore said one his favorite aspects of his job is “seeing the smiles of my co-workers and the city residents.”
He said he is proud of his public works crew and has many happy memories of working with them.
“That’s what you have and it’s what you hold on to, the good memories,” said Moore.
He said he is proud of the city of Groveport and enjoyed watching the town change and grow. But now it is time for the next chapter of his life.
“I’m looking forward to every day being Saturday,” said Moore. “I’ll build my last house and barn, fish, make some wind chimes, and spend time with family and friends.”
The structural leadership changes
According to city officials, the new public service director position has an annual salary range of $70,446 to $113,237. The public works superintendent position that is being replaced had an annual salary range of $59,964 to $95,942.
“Council wants to make the position more of an executive position with requirements for various certifications (such as water operator’s license) and broad based knowledge of all facets of public works (streets, sewer and water),” Green said earlier this year. “This person will work closely with the city engineer and will likely be involved with discussions and/or negotiations with entities like Franklin County and the city of Columbus.”
Green said the public service director job differs from the public works superintendent position in that currently the superintendent reports to the city engineer while the newly created position will report to the city administrator.
“Also, the new position will have greater oversight responsibilities for not only streets, but also operation of the water plant and will need to have, at a minimum, a Class 1 Water Operator’s License,” said Green.
Public service director candidates will also be required to have a bachelor’s degree in engineering, environmental science, construction management, or public administration. They will also need at least five years of work in public works responsibilities and three years of public works supervisor experience.
In addition to the new public service director job, council approved changing the current position of foreman to maintenance superintendent street/storm, which will have a higher pay grade to reflect the increased responsibilities for the daily management of the street department. The annual salary pay range for the maintenance superintendent street/storm is $51,711 to $83,074, while the former foreman position had an annual salary pay range of $43,707 to $70,250.
“It is expected that current foreman, Walt Wagner, will assume this superintendent position,” said Green.
Council is also considering creating the job of utilities superintendent water/sewer, which is responsible for the daily management of the city’s water plant and overall utility infrastructure. The annual salary pay range for the utilities superintendent water/sewer is $54,372 to $87,371.
Advantages of the leadership changes
When asked what the advantages are of making these changes to the public works department, Green said, “Currently the city engineer provides some oversight for the department, however his heavy workload makes it difficult for him to provide the leadership and guidance needed in the department. The public service director will provide this leadership, will assist in infrastructure planning, including budgeting, will participate in negotiations with outside entities such as Franklin County or the city of Columbus, and will manage both the streets and the utilities teams with the help of the superintendents in both divisions.”
Green lauded the public works department’s efforts.
“Because of the hard work of our public works staff, we have safe well-maintained streets and sidewalks, a safe water supply and sanitary sewer system,” said Green. Alongside the police department, public works is a key component of the local quality of life.”