Town and village staff are proposing a new shared position that would be responsible for overseeing all buildings owned by the two communities.
Staff say the position would help the municipalities create a consistent process for contract services and shift responsibility away from the public works department. The position is among one of three being proposed in the town’s fiscal year 2020 budget, with police officers making up the other two.
Estimates for the position’s cost are about $108,000 with the following breakdown: $40,000 in salary from the town, $20,000 in salary from the village, $41,104 in benefits, $2,500 for conferences, training and dues, $3,500 for vehicle costs and $1,500 for miscellaneous expenses like a cell phone and computer, according to town public works director Dennis Lutz.
Lutz said the ideal candidate will know plumbing, electrical and HVAC and be licensed in at least one of these disciplines while also being able to develop proactive maintenance plans and offer input on long-term capital needs.
The buildings manager would be in charge of nearly 30 municipal buildings with a combined square footage of over 130,000.
“To a great degree, the approach to maintenance and repair of these buildings has been reactive and not proactive,” Lutz wrote in a memo to the two boards. “Maintenance is done when roofs leak, sewers back-up, something breaks or when employees or the public raise a concern.”
Lutz said no one on the town or village public works staff are building experts and the departments are already stretched thin trying to manage the other infrastructure responsibilities.
That’s forced department heads to handle their own building needs, resulting in inconsistencies in hiring contracted services and vendors – including some “not necessarily well qualified to perform the work,” Lutz wrote.
He pointed to the Brownell Library, where staff have dealt with sewer backups and failed air conditioning systems. Public works has stepped in to address the problems, Lutz said, but at the expense of performing the department’s primary duties, which often have a much higher priority.
“As a result, buildings have continued to deteriorate, often resulting in much higher costs to fix,” Lutz wrote. In addition, he said the lack of a unified system has led to inadequate oversight of contracted services, with little follow up to insure the projects have been completed correctly.
Lutz hoped the new building manager could develop relationships with vendors and insure the town only those who are qualified. He added the job could grow to include grounds maintenance and other responsibilities.