County nixes public works position

Advertisement

The Moffat County commissioners unanimously approved a proposal Tuesday not to fill the director of public works position left vacant by the resignation of Rich Anderson last month.

In a morning meeting, department directors that were supervised by Anderson discussed the need to rehire the position with the three commissioners -- and none expressed a strong desire to fill it.

Gary Brannon, Moffat County pest management supervisor, said he did not think the position was needed for his department.

"There was really no advantage to having a public works director for us," he told the commission. "The only thing I got out of it was that we had regular meetings with other departments."

The public works director was hired last April instead of filling a vacant road and bridge director position.

Moffat County Commissioner Marianna Raftopoulos said Tuesday the Road and Bridge Department always had been called upon to assist in other department's projects, and said in making its decision last spring, the commission thought it would be more efficient to hire someone specifically for the role of overseeing all departments.

In a Letter to the Editor in the Craig Daily Press last November, the Board of Moffat County Commissioners adamantly justified having the position.

"The decision to create the position of public works director was a team recommendation that was adopted by the county commissioners. During our monthly department head meetings the decision was made to evaluate our governmental structure. A committee of county employees was formed to conduct this evaluation. After a great deal of research and discussion, the committee recommended that Moffat County name the Road and Bridge manager the new public works director and there would still be a Road and Bridge manager, but no assistant."

"This change of approach to management has provided us with the opportunity to improve efficiency in these departments by sharing resources, employees and equipment."

But the directors gathered Tuesday did not think a public works director was needed for coordination amongst the departments.

Kelvin Stehle, director of maintenance, agreed that the departments do not have a problem working together.

"We've always worked together," he said. "We've always been a cohesive group."

Parks and Recreation Director Steve Granbouche said he was still adapting to the changes of the public works director.

"It was a hard transition during the time Rich was here," he said. "I felt in limbo, but I think that would have changed. One of the things he did do was coordinate the meetings between the departments."

Which everyone, commissioners and directors, agreed should continue, even though the position is not being filled.

"The value of the public works concept was all of you folks working together," Moffat County Commissioner Les Hampton said.

Billy Mack, who assumed the role of road and bridge director when the public works director was hired, agreed his department has always been the go to for other public works departments.

"The Road and Bridge Department has always had a supervisor and an assistant supervisor and I think we still need that," he said. "With Rich on board he basically took over what the previous road and bridge supervisor had been doing. What we need at road and bridge is a technical person to do engineering projects for us."

Raftopoulos and Mack said what Anderson brought to the county was engineering expertise, but a suggestion in the meeting was to hire outside firms for that expertise when necessary.

Moffat County Commissioner Darryl Steele was the reason Rich Anderson resigned as public works director.

"In his campaign Darryl said his main issue was eliminating my position," Anderson said a few days after turning in his letter of resignation in December. "When he was elected I decided I would be better off elsewhere."

Steele, who made the proposal not to rehire the position, said the department directors working together is efficient enough for the county.

"Look at the years of experience we've got in these guys in the front row," he said in reference to the department directors. "There's no way you can go out and hire a public works director that can bring what these guys already have."

Steele then made a motion to eliminate the director of public works position, and work out the details of how to address the future situation in a Feb. 12 workshop.

The motion, which will cut an estimated $107,000 off of this year's budget, was unanimously approved.

After the meeting Raftopoulos said the commissioners listened to the concerns of the department directors Tuesday, just like they did last spring, when several of those same people served on the committee that said the position would be beneficial.

"We tried it and it didn't work," she said of the position. "Now we're trying something else."

In other business Tuesday, the commissioners discussed several other proposals made by Steele in his county reorganization proposal.

They included:

  • A motion to move the accounting department directly under the board of county commissioners. The motion was defeated by a 2-1 vote. Steele was the only commissioner to vote in favor of his own motion.
  • A motion to eliminate the county human resources director position. A motion was made to table a decision on the proposal until a meeting could be held with elected officials and the human resources department to discuss its role in the county. The motion to table a decision passed by a 2-1. Steele, who had made a motion to eliminate the position, was the only commissioner to vote against tabling the issue.
  • A discussion on general cost saving measures for county government. The commissioners considered cutting $30,000 for legal fees from the natural resources department, but decided a vote should not be taken until Natural Resources Director Jeff Comstock was consulted.

Josh Nichols can be reached at 824-7031 or jnichols@craigdailypress.com.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.