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City dept. structure ‘tweaked’

Posted: Monday, Jan 14th, 2013

KEMMERER — Not much has changed with respect to the city’s departmental structure and staffing, according to Kemmerer city administrator Rebecca Davidson.

“I can tell you that there are still six department heads — that’s what we had when I got here, so that’s still here — except we’ve changed the positions a little bit,” she explained to the Gazette.

She began by discussing the November 2012 job posting for a city planner, a recent topic at city council meetings courtesy of Kemmerer resident Connie McMillan. As Davidson explained it, the position is not new but replaces the 2012-vacated building inspector position, but with certain adjustments to better address current city goals related to economic development.

“We need planning here. I think the issue is that economic development is a large part of what we’re supposed to be accomplishing, and you need a planner who has the skill sets to really understand how you put things on the ground, what does that look like, all those kind of things, to help with that. So this position, instead of emphasizing maintenance and just building permits, it takes that up a notch and actually brings us a little more experience and skill set. So it isn’t a new position, it’s just a newly — how do I say that — tweaked [position].”

The planning position incorporates responsibilities related to building inspection, zoning and code enforcement under the departmental umbrella of Community Development and will also include tasks and responsibilities related to Main Street committee efforts and historic preservation, currently being handled by Davidson. Despite the name change, the position is still that of a departmental head that will report to Davidson.

“We took our time with that to really understand what we needed, took an existing position and just tweaked it to hit all the things that we need done,” she explained.

Several other city job descriptions have also been adjusted as part of restructuring aimed at improving city management.

Recreation center director April Corwin’s job description didn’t include parks, which Davidson said didn’t make much sense, so she included parks with recreation. Now park maintenance staff will report to Corwin instead of Davidson.

South Lincoln Training and Event Center director Jennifer Lasik has seen her position metamorphose, too. As the city’s newly titled cultural arts and events director, she’s moved from just managing the facility and associated events to managing other city events as well, like the recent Christmas tree lighting and upcoming sled dog race; city events need to be managed, stressed Davidson. Reporting to Lasik are two part-time employees.

The city’s public works department, with Dave McConkie serving as interim head pending the eventual replacement of former superintendent Dave Roberts, includes city streets, sanitation and airport maintenance.

And with the recent arrival of former Idaho resident and 20-year law enforcement veteran Stacy Buck, the city’s police department — which includes animal control — again has a new head. Buck replaces former police chief Steve Dillree, who left KPD and joined the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office last summer.

Davidson also clarified the apparent delay between certain positions becoming vacant and subsequently filled, as was the case with the aforementioned police chief position.

In the past, the city has paid departing employees for accrued sick leave and vacation — which in Dillree’s case amounted to four months — the balance of which the city has to “work off,” or afford, before it can replace that position. And as was the case with hiring a new chief of police, Davidson pointed out, the process of interviewing and selecting the right candidate is complex.

Davidson spoke of no recent changes to the city clerk/treasurer department, headed by long-time clerk and treasurer, Glenda Young.

“What we’re trying to do is build a team of department heads that have the breadth and width of responsibility and authority to really cover what we’re supposed to be covering. And we kind of aren’t there yet, so I’ve tried to change things a little bit to cover that,” Davidson explained in summary.

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