The city’s director of utilities position will not be filled after the department head abruptly resigned in June.
The decision not to fill the position was part of a larger reorganization the Durango City Council unanimously approved Tuesday. The council approved new positions that will allow for changes in the utilities department, a new customer service division, and a crime analyst position for the Durango Police Department, among other changes. Most of the new positions will be filled by existing city staff.
“I think every organization looks at best practices and how they can best use the people within the organization,” Durango City Councilor Sweetie Marbury said.
City Operations Director Levi Lloyd was named acting utilities director after former director Steve Salka quit, and Lloyd will take over the department permanently as part of the city reorganization, according to city documents.
Salka resigned from his post citing disagreements with the city manager, just as the massive remodel of the wastewater treatment plant in Santa Rita Park was getting underway. The city engineer was assigned to overseeing the multi-million-dollar project before Salka departed.
Salka’s position was not filled as part of an effort to “streamline the direct reports coming to the city manager,” City Manager Ron LeBlanc said in an interview.
In March, the council approved two new assistant city manager positions as part of a restructuring to help relieve the city manager’s workload. The recently approved changes are the second phase of the restructuring effort, city documents said.
The changes required $19,100 to fund new positions, city documents said. However, the general fund, which relies on unpredictable sales tax collections, will see $9,200 in savings as part of the changes, Finance Director Julie Brown said.
Assistant Utilities Director Jarrod Biggs was hired earlier this year and his position helps make the transition of the utilities department into city operations possible, LeBlanc said.
“What we had previously was a big gap between the director and the first-line supervisor,” LeBlanc said.
City Engineer Gregg Boysen is overseeing the construction of the wastewater treatment plant, and as part of the position changes, 90 percent of his salary will come from the wastewater fund.
An assistant city engineer position was created Tuesday to take over Boysen’s prior responsibilities, and this position will be filled by an existing city staff member.
The council also approved two meter technician positions within the utilities department, and those staff members will help upgrade city water meters so they can all be read remotely, Lloyd said.
The utilities department planned to replace a few hundred utility meters at a time, but now an upgrade of the aging meters is planned to start in October.
“We would be better served by doing all of them at once and just getting the new technology out there as quickly as possible,” he said.
Within the finance department, the city is creating a new customer service division, and several existing employees will be cross-trained to answer questions on different aspects of the city utility bill and other requests, such as calls for bear-resistant containers.
“When they are cross-trained, they can back each other up and provide a better service to the public,” LeBlanc said during a public meeting.
The police department was also cleared to hire a crime analyst. The new staff member will use data to determine where and when there is more demand for police presence.