Share This Page

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 kzapf@tribweb.com.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.