City to fill vacant parks and public works positionThe Hudson City Council plans to fill the position of parks and public works director that has been vacant since Jim Eulberg resigned from the job at the end of March 2007.
By: Randy Hanson, Hudson Star-Observer
The Hudson City Council plans to fill the position of parks and public works director that has been vacant since Jim Eulberg resigned from the job at the end of March 2007.
The council voted June 16 to officially combine the Parks and Public Works departments and begin process of hiring a director to lead the unified department.
Lead Man Tom Zeuli has headed up the Public Works Department since Eulberg’s departure, and Lead Man J.J. Barnes has supervised the Parks Department.
The council also directed the Finance Committee, working with the city staff, to revise the job description of the parks and public works director.
The job description was re-written to include engineering duties when Eulberg was parks and public works director.
But Mayor Dean Knudson said the attempt to save money by having the parks and public works director do engineering work didn’t succeed. The problem was that the engineering work couldn’t be accomplished in-house without additional support staff, equipment and tools, he said.
Knudson raised the issue of combining the two departments and filling the long-vacant director position.
“I think it would be best if we had a full-time director running those departments,” he said.
Knudson noted that former mayor Jack Breault had, effectively, combined the departments for the winter season so parks employees could be called on to drive snowplows.
He said he had done the same thing for the summer – making it possible to assign public works employees to lawn mowing.
Community Development Director Dennis Darnold told council members that he and Water Utility Director Dennis Christophersen and Wastewater Treatment Director Jim Schreiber had had to take on some duties that otherwise would have been handled by the parks and public works director.
The three of them recommended filling the position, he said.
“I haven’t said no to the Pubic Works Department yet, but some day I may have to,” Darnold said.
Council members were in general agreement that the Parks and Public Works departments should be combined.
Alderman Randy Morrissette II indicated that he preferred having two independent departments, but not if it was more costly.
Alderman Scot O’Malley argued against hiring a parks and public works director.
“I don’t think we have a $70,000 problem to solve at this point,” he said.
O’Malley, chairman of the Public Works Committee, said he is in almost daily contact with Public Works Lead Man Zeuli and the department is operating fine. The Parks Department also is running smoothly, he said.
The city’s 2008 budget has $70,000 set aside for a parks and public works director.
Knudson took issue with O’Malley’s assertion that all is fine with the Parks and Public Works departments. He pointed out that the city had failed do what was needed to receive a $500,000 state grant to help pay for the old hospital property after the Department of Natural Resources had announced that it would award the money to Hudson.
The city has since reapplied for the money.
Knudson said having union members act as supervisors for other union members also presented a problem. He said he wouldn’t be surprised if the Public Works employees’ union objected to the practice soon.
The motion by Randy Morrissette II to combine the Parks and Public Works departments and fill the director position passed on a voice vote with no one opposing it.
O’Malley said he abstained from the vote to avoid being seen as an obstructionist.
In other business, the council:
Engineer Chuck Schwartz of Bonestroo said he had no reason doubt that Urban Companies could perform the work, however. The project also will involve laying 2,200 square feet of concrete pads and 800 square feet of sod around the pads.