Plum Council to vote on plan to restructure public works

| Wednesday, March 6, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Plum Council is eyeing a restructuring of the public works department that would elevate two employees to administrative positions.

Members on Monday are expected to consider a half-dozen items related to changes in the department set into motion by the planned retirement later this month of long-time public works Director Bill Berchick.

Manager Michael Thomas said during council's work session earlier this week that the staff and personnel committee have recommended Carl Taylor to oversee the buildings and grounds portion of the public works department.

Bill Binnie is recommended to supervise the roads and infrastructure part of the department.

Thomas said each of the men has more than a decade of experience.

Council on Monday night is expected to consider salary and benefit packages for the two men.

Thomas said the components of the roads and infrastructure department would be paving, storm-sewer work and winter maintenance.

Buildings and grounds would oversee parks and recreation, maintenance of the borough building and signage.

The positions were created after council decided to eliminate the public works director position and split the job into two.

“The borough has grown so much in the last 15 to 20 years,” Thomas said during the council work session earlier this week.

“It's too much for one person to manage so we have separated the duties.”

Thomas said the restructuring is expected to save the borough about $75,000 a year because of the reduced labor force.

Both men would report to assistant Manager Greg Bachy, who has doubled as assistant manager and planning director.

With Bachy's increased responsibilities overseeing the public works department, the borough staff and personnel committee have recommended promoting Jason Straley, assistant planning director, to the planning director's position.

“He has taken on more responsibilities of the (planning) department,” Thomas said. “It is time to appoint him planning director.”

Thomas said the promotion carries with it no salary increase. Straley received a raise in January. His salary is about $60,000, Straley said.

Straley, 34, a Plum native who lives in the borough, has worked for the borough for 13 years in the positions of assistant planning director, assistant building inspector, assistant code enforcement officer, planner and most recently assistant planning director.

Straley has a bachelor's degree in political science from Penn State University.

In recent months, Straley said, he has taken on more tasks in the planning department including budgeting, overseeing staff, assigning job duties to the five employees, reviewing plans and meeting with applicants before their proposals go to the borough planning commission for review.

The proposed promotions come a few months after council approved hiring four laborers in the public works department: Shaun Williams, Edward Brodak, Justin Lauffer and Richard Ruskiewicz at a rate of $15.50 an hour.

“We hired four new employees,” Council Vice President Keith Nowalk, who chairs the personnel committee, said in December.

“It wasn't done on the spur of the moment. We worked all year on this, and we have these timely retirements. We have four new workers and a great savings to the borough.”

Council on Monday night also is expected to consider four change orders at a cost of $31,137 for the multi-million dollar public works facility. Bachy said the project remains within budget.

A portion of the new public works facility — the salt storage building — has been completed, Thomas said.

Construction of a 21,000-square-foot building and garage with a capacity for 25 vehicles, bays for mechanics and lifts for vehicles, is under way on borough property between Renton Road and Old Leechburg Road.

The current public works facility is located at the borough building site off New Texas Road.

Also planned at the new site are offices, a training room, restrooms, locker rooms and a kitchen area.

The site will have parking, including 25 employee spaces.

The building is scheduled to be completed on June 1, 2013.

Karen Zapf is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-856-7400 ext. 8753 or

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