PORT ALLEN — Mayor Roger Bergeron is asking the City Council to approve his plan to recreate a department of public works aimed at establishing better communication within the administration and improving efficiency of the city’s public services divisions.
The mayor wants to hire a new department director tasked with overseeing the 23 employees who fall within the city’s Roads & Drainage, Water & Gas, Waste Water Treatment and Fleet Management divisions. The director would also serve as liaison among the divisions’ supervisors and the Mayor’s Office.
“If I have one person knowledgeable about the various functions of city government, he or she can stand before me instead of all four,” Bergeron said.
The mayor said the city had a public works director more than 10 years ago before doing away with the job.
Bergeron said the proposed job would have to be advertised for three consecutive weeks and a potential candidate approved by the City Council if his plan is accepted. He hopes to fill the position by July 1, he said.
The mayor presented his plan to the City Council Wednesday night during committee meetings.
Bergeron’s job description for the post calls for an individual who has a college degree, or equivalent field experience, more than 10 years of experience in “various public works activities” and advanced knowledge in basic subject areas.
Among the job functions listed in the mayor’s proposal are coordinating construction projects and ensuring that construction plans are in compliance with laws and city ordinances in addition to administrative and managerial duties.
Although a majority of the council seemed to have a favorable response to the mayor’s proposition, Councilwoman Ray Helen Lawrence said she found the job description to be “a bit much” for one person to handle while Councilman Irvrie Johnson said he wasn’t sold on its efficiency.
“All of those tiers you have there sounds a bit much for one person to me,” Lawrence told the mayor. “With all these criteria you have listed, this sounds like someone with experience in civil engineering. Do we have anyone with a background in civil engineering?”
Bergeron said he wasn’t aware of anyone with such qualifications on the city payroll at this time.
Johnson said he fears placing the divisions under one director could open the door to inaccurate information getting back to the mayor from the divisions’ supervisors and stifle the introduction of the “great” ideas that could be born out of brainstorming sessions with the mayor.
Bergeron said Thursday he feels confident the council would approve his plan.
“I’m open to any concerns expressed by the council,” Bergeron added.