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City manager: Utilities maintenance needs to add staff

February 25, 2014
By jIM LINETTE ( , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

City Manager John Szerlag and Utilities Director Jeff Pearson apprised City Council members Monday night of the city's need for additional staff to maintain a "good" level of service in the very near future.

"This really is kind of an early budget discussion," said Szerlag. "In the past the city made staffing cuts, but we will be asking to hire several new staffers in maintaining the utilities infrastructure."

The utilities department currently has $161 million in capital improvement projects , which have been on hold because of reduced staff, that need to be completed over the next 10 years. An additional 22 people are needed to achieve a "good" level of service, or 79 hires to achieve an "excellent" level, officials said.

"These additional staff will not impact water and sewer rates," said Pearson. "Of the 22 new staff positions, three are required to start the CIP program and the rest on infrastructure maintenance."

For Fiscal Year 2015, the additional staff is estimated to cost the city between $178,044 to $220,017.

"We currently have more than 56,000 utility accounts and will have 9,000 new accounts coming online over the next several years with the majority coming from the utilities expansion," said Pearson.

Pearson also pointed out his department has reduced costs through best practices in electricity load management, vendor pricing, remotely controlled monitors, operations and maintenance.

The presentation did not require council to act.

In other business before council, two ordinance amendments were passed, one amendment was pulled, another postponed, and three ordinances were introduced to the panel with public hearings set for March 10.

Council also approved a series of consent agenda items dealing with grant applications with the Tourist Development Council, Department of Community Development, Florida Department of Transportation, and Residential Construction Mitigation Program. The grant projects included Sirenia Vista Park maintenance, Yacht Club beach maintenance, Four Mile Cove Ecological Park maintenance.

An ordinance amending the city code to revise current hiring practices and increase efficiency of the hiring process passed 7-1. Councilmember Jim Burch objected to the measure because it did not sufficiently address shortening the time it takes to go through the hiring process

All eight members voted to pass the amendment that provides the fees and rates charged at the municipal golf course be established by the city manager instead of the full council. The measure was requested by the course's golf council.

The ordinance attempting to amend the code dealing with taxicab application and requirements was pulled off the agenda and a resolution to discontinue the practice of a council member or mayor sponsoring ordinances and resolutions was postponed until the next meeting.



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