Roanoke TC discusses employee hiring

The Roanoke Town Council discussed hiring new employees for the utility department at its meeting on Tuesday, July 16.

While the board had already decided to authorize the hiring of one new utility employee, Councilman Ryan Carroll suggested that the board should consider sanctioning the hire of a second employee, too. As the utility department’s council liaison, Carroll noted that he had met with the department’s staff several times and left those meetings with the belief that the department’s workload was large enough to warrant the hire of two new employees.

Carroll explained that one of the main jobs the new employees would be tasked with was performing routine maintenance on utility infrastructure around town. It’s a big task, he said, that the utility department’s current employees were simply too busy to address.

“They get the stuff done that everybody sees,” said Carroll, “but there’s stuff behind closed doors that is not going to get done that needs to get done.”

Superintendent of Operations Phil Hibbert and senior maintenance worker Jason Porter both mentioned that the flushing of fire hydrants and valves were examples of maintenance tasks that often get put off, as no employees are available to do them.

Carroll offered a recent example of how not performing utility maintenance had cost the town money.

“You guys replaced, as council, last year something in the sewer plant because it was not routinely maintenanced,” he said. “It cost us $12,000 and would’ve lasted 15 more years had somebody had the time to do that maintenance.”

Carroll advocated for the hiring of the two new employees this year. Clerk-Treasurer JoAnne Kirchner stated that making both hires this year was not financially possible. Carroll’s fellow council members agreed with him that the utility department could use the two additional workers, but favored an approach that saw them hire one employee this year and the second in 2020. Kirchner supported this approach, stating that it would give her time to integrate the second employee into the 2020 budget, which she was currently working on.

Ultimately, council unanimously agreed by consensus to move forward with the hire of one employee this year and the second next year.

In other business:

– Porter explained that council needed to start thinking about purchasing a new water meter reader for the town, as the town’s current unit would no longer be supported with updates starting next April. The cost of the reader is $10,000.

– Council unanimously voted to change the town’s parking ordinance to ban overnight parking in the municipal parking lot on Third Street.

– The board approved a contract with Clounie Landscaping to have the company tend to the trees and mulch on Main Street and maintain two flower beds in town in 2020. The contract totaled $3,675 and council voted to pay for it with CEDIT funds.

– Council Vice President Troy Karshner suggested that when the town’s trash contract expires, the board explore the possibility of offering recycling pickup in addition to garbage collection.