Public Works reviews adding staff
Clintonville Streets Committee discusses employee morale
By Bert Lehman
While reviewing the need for another employee at the Clintonville Public Works Department, the department’s morale was discussed.
At the Aug. 26 Clintonville Streets Committee meeting, chairman Jim Supanich asked Assistant City Administrator/Clintonville Public Works Director Caz Muske if the department needs an additional employee in order for it to complete all its work.
Muske said any department head would love to add another employee to their department, but from a financial standpoint she said the cost of another employee has to make sense.
“I guess my question is, What are we trying to accomplish with this additional person?” Muske asked.
She said the skills of a new employee would need to be discussed because that has an impact on their hourly rate.
Supanich told Muske that based on a memo she sent to committee members, his understanding was that she was not recommending adding another employee to the city’s Public Works Department.
“Not unless I know exactly what we’re trying to accomplish,” Muske responded.
Muske said an additional employee would help lessen the burden on the existing employees in the department, but said it wasn’t critical that it happen “at this moment in time.”
Supanich asked if it would become critical in the next five years.
“Potentially,” Muske responded.
“So, we should maybe plan for an additional person in five years?” Supanich asked.
“Sure,” Muske responded.
Supanich said the city is trying to plan the budget side of adding an additional employee.
Projects completed on time?
Muske said in her memo that she was inquiring about what expectation the committee has of the department, and if the department is not doing projects that the committee expects to be done.
Supanich asked if the department was having any problems completing projects on time.
Muske said the only issue causing delays are for projects that involve contractors.
“You’re getting everything done on a timely basis, there’s nothing falling through the cracks, and your people aren’t getting wore out. Is that what you’re telling me?” Supanich asked.
“That’s the feedback that I’ve gotten,” Muske said. “I think we definitely have our plate full. I can definitely say that. So, I think an additional person would be helpful.”
When asked again by Supanich if the Public Works Department will need an additional employee in the next five years, Muske responded, “I think it would always be helpful to have more people. Everybody would say that.”
Supanich said he is worried about burning employees out to the point they don’t want to come to work.
“The decision shouldn’t be we’re not going to do it, make a recommendation on the Street (Committee) level simply because we don’t think the city can afford it in the next five years,” Supanich said.
Committee Member Tammy Strey-Hirt agreed with Muske that everyone would want to add an employee to their department. She also asked if anyone in the Public Works Department told Muske they are burned out.
“I’ve had people on the team tell me that they’re getting tired,” Supanich said.
Muske again asked what the committee is trying to accomplish.
“Do we want to do more projects or are we wanting to lessen the load?” Muske asked. “If we want to do more projects then maybe we need more than one person. I guess that’s kind of where as the director of our department I’m a little confused on what the expectations are.
“I don’t know what you’ve been told, but apparently people have been coming to you. So, I’m trying to inquire about a little bit more information.”
Supanich responded, “The expectation is to get everything done in the city, to keep it in good working order, on a timely basis, without burning out people.”
Committee member Brandon Braden said that based on his work experience at different jobs, there is never an end to the work that needs to be done.
Muske said if more projects are put under the responsibility of the Public Works Department to justify hiring another employee, operational costs would also increase to fund the extra projects.
“So, we’re not only investing in a person, but we’re also investing in more materials,” Muske said. “That’s why my question today, what are we trying to accomplish, and then we can talk about budgetary numbers if it is adding more.”
Muske said she can find more projects for the department to do.
“I’ve been wanting to do a more systematic way for brush pick-up,” Muske said. “That specific example, I’ve had a lot of push back from my people about it. It’s a balancing act. Even our on-call schedule, that was a struggle with my team. I think they’re accustomed to how things had been, so we have to take and give, and work together.”
Supanich said the discussion is for five-year planning, and it’s not something that will happen immediately.
The discussion ended without any resolution.