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September 24, 2013

Public works efficiency eyed in two-phase study

CLINTON — Redefining and streamlining the public works department will be the focus of the next study commissioned by the city of Clinton.

The city will pay Cedar Rapids-based firm, HR Green, $15,600 to conduct a two-phase study, which will end with the city receiving recommendations that can be incorporated into next year’s budget.

City Administrator Jessica Kinser targeted the public works department because of the lack of organization in the department that followed the retirement of former public works director Gary Schellhorn.

“Where the organization really changed and where we didn’t really have a grasp of how to do things is in the public works area,” Kinser told members of the City Services Committee Monday. “We eliminated a public works director position and didn’t refill it. And then things just fell to whatever seemed natural. And that doesn’t necessarily mean that’s the best way to do things.”

Solid waste functions will not be included in the study because the city is already looking into privatizing the services. The remaining public works functions, which include water pollution control plant, streets, grounds and facilities and transit and encompasses 30 plus employees, will be studied.

HR Green will examine the public works functions as a whole to understand who does what and how many employees the city has supporting each function. This first phase will give the city an idea of what needs to be studied further, which could include realigning operations, reducing staff, or outsourcing some duties.

The second phase will look at cost-saving measures and how to implement these steps.

After gathering the costs associated with public works services, HR Green and the city will evaluate three alternative service delivery options: reassigning duties of existing employees due to retirement or other forms of attrition, having private vendors to supply the services and partnering with Clinton County or the Clinton School District.

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