Mayor Condon Reorganizes To Improve Management Of Utilities - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Mayor Condon Reorganizes To Improve Management Of Utilities, Infrastructure

SPOKANE, Wash. - Spokane Mayor David Condon on Friday announced organizational changes to improve the management of the City of Spokane's public infrastructure and utility services.

"As a City, our citizens have invested billions of dollars in our utilities and infrastructure, creating tremendous community assets," Mayor Condon says.  "We are making changes to ensure ongoing quality services at a time of tighter and tighter budgets.  We must operate more efficiently and maintain these critical assets for our future health."

The organizational plan calls for the City's major utilities—water, wastewater, and solid waste—along with fleet services to form a streamlined division. 

The Street Department, which had been grouped with those departments, would join an area of the City that already manages street capital construction projects. And design engineers throughout the City would be centralized.

These changes compliment a move toward improved real estate asset management that was announced last week.  As part of that move, the City is working to take a comprehensive approach to managing its 1,600 parcels of land. 

It is eliminating its real estate program and will seek professional real estate assistance from the private sector as needed.

Rick Romero, currently the City's internal auditor, is being tapped to lead the Utility Division.  Romero has been working on a 90-day assessment of the utilities' current and future budgets to provide quality services and meet regulation requirements while maintaining affordable rates. 

He was also instrumental in the West Plains annexation, the development of the property-evidence room, and other major projects. Previously, Romero worked at EWU for 28 years, the last 10 as Vice President for Business Services.  Romero's appointment by the Mayor would need to be confirmed by the City Council.

Gerry Gemmill, currently acting Division Director of the current larger division called Public Works & Utilities, will be moved into a new position to lead consolidation projects with Spokane County and other local jurisdictions and assist with labor relations and negotiations. 

Cost savings and improved services are the goals of these efforts, which also will help the City deal with tight budgets.  His title will be Director of Local Government & Labor Relations.

Meanwhile, the City's Street Department would become part of the Business & Developer Services Division, which is led by Jan Quintrall and already contains the Engineering Services Department, which manages infrastructure capital projects completed by private-sector contractors. 

The Street Department provides complimentary street maintenance services, including snow removal, leaf pickup, pothole repair and other pavement repair work, street striping, sign installation, and traffic signal management, among other things.

And, all design engineering functions will be centralized also within the Engineering Services Department, with engineers from each of the utilities moving to that centralized department. 

Further, the City's economic development specialists located in the small Business & Development Services Department will move to the Planning Department to add economic development expertise to zoning and planning efforts. 

The Department's Director, Teresa Brum, will take a temporary assignment within the Community & Neighborhood Services Division to head up special projects. Initially, she will be working on a study of affordable housing in our community.

"We are seeking efficiency by placing like services together, fostering coordination and collaboration," says Mayor Condon.  "We must take every opportunity to be innovative and forward-thinking. We are committed to making organizational changes that enhance our strengths and create a City government that is more nimble."

The changes are beginning to be implemented now, with the work completed in time for the new budget year, 2013.

 

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