City eliminates DPW Director position

City replaces with new Operations Manager position, looks to save city and taxpayers money in long-term


By Kellen Olshefski


Following a final decision to terminate long-time Department of Public Works Director Terry Weter, the Elkhorn City Council voted unanimously Monday to completely eliminate the director position, creating a new position in its place.

According to a memorandum from City Administrator Sam Tapson that was distributed to councilmembers at Monday’s meeting, due to a merger of the water and electric utilities, the duties and responsibilities of the Public Works Director have been substantially diminished.

During the meeting, Tapson said in lengthy Human Resources Committee discussions while it reviewed the city’s wage and compensation plan, they revised the management position to “re-price” the job.

“You’re sitting now with a vacancy where it is appropriate now to consider that position elimination and re-crafting it with lesser requirements of the job, with a lesser paycheck associated,” he said.

According to Tapson, as part of the process, the city will have to amend the municipal code accordingly to reflect the changes by drafting and ordinance.

The new position, Operations Manager, would provide oversight and coordination of the programs and services delivered by the DPW, including front-line supervision of full-time and seasonal staff, according to the job’s description. In addition, the Operations Manager would participate in the planning, implementation, and evaluation of city programs and services.

According to Council President Brian Olson, the re-write of the job description has been on the table in the Human Resources Committee since early December.

Olson said the role will be a more working, supervisory role.

“It’s going to be more of a hands-on management role,” he said. “They’re going to be working and managing at the same time.”

According to a copy of the proposed job posting, essential duties would include “preparation and management of the annual budget; monitor compliance with regulatory agency requirements; administration of operating policies and procedures; coordination of field operations work and planning and system maintenance activities.”

The posting lists several qualifications, including a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration, Public Administration, engineering or a closely related field of study, and five years supervisory experience in a municipal public works department is preferred.

The posting lists the salary, dependent on qualifications, as ranging from $60,000 to $75,938 for the new position.

According to Olson, the idea is that as early as two years after the start of the new position, the city will be able to cross-train and potentially reduce man-hours, saving money for the city and its taxpayers.

The new position is expected to be posted in the near future as information presented to the council sets Feb. 14 as a closing date for application.


Weter’s termination

The council officially voted in favor of terminating Weter last Thursday in a special common council meeting with a 5-1 vote, Alderman Scott McClory offering up the only negative vote. An original 4-2 vote was taken during a special meeting on Jan. 13, at which time Alderman Gary Payson, Sr., also opposed termination.

Tapson said as the city designated the DPW director as an officer several years ago, the vote required a super majority to pass, which the 4-2 vote did not meet. From there, the council had an option to reconsider, bringing the topic back before the board Jan. 16 during a special meeting. Weter had been placed on administrative leave following the Jan. 13 meeting.

Payson said he changed his vote to be in accordance with the super majority requirement. He said as the majority of the council was in favor of Weter’s termination, he wanted to get it done and over with rather than drag the decision out any longer.

Olson reiterated Weter’s termination was due to the merger of the water and electric utilities, as the job description changed and responsibilities of the water department shifted over to Electric Director John Murphy.

Murphy is temporarily overseeing the DPW while the city prepares the new position for hiring.

According to Olson, if Weter was interested, he could apply for the new Operations Manager position.

Comments are closed.