Rapids mayor looks at reorganization of administration
By Kris Leonhardt
WISCONSIN RAPIDS – On Oct. 11, the city’s Human Resources Committee heard a proposal brought forward by Mayor Shane Blaser that calls for an organizational restructuring of the Wisconsin Rapids Department of Public Works, which would include the elimination of the director of public works position.
“For me, I almost think it is a redundant position,” Blaser explained. “Part of the issue is, when we elect leadership we hope you also get organizational change. We are electing new leaders because we want change. If I am elected, and I did everything status quo, then what is the point.
“I think we could find a better use for (the public works director) position. To me, I think it is too much administration. For a community our size, I don’t think we need that much administration.”
Blaser describes the current structure as “very linear.”
“It’s me, the public works director, and then Paul Vollert oversees the street department, then Ryan Giefer oversees wastewater, and Joe Eichsteadt oversees our engineering department, all under the public works director,” he said.
“The street department is all reporting to Paul. To me an organizational chart is usually pyramid in shape. I decided that this is not effective – trying to manage that many different people – it’s tough.”
So, Blaser has come up with a new structure that shifts some of the administrative responsibility.
“I took out the public works director, but then we have engineering wastewater, street, and then I pulled park & (recreation.) Park & rec used to be inside the street department. Years ago, it was its own department. I look at our park & rec department has a lot to oversee – parks, aquatic center, all the recreational programs. I think that deserves the priority of being its own department,” he explained.
Blaser also went through the roles and the responsibilities of all other positions in the paradigm.
“Part of my job as administrator here is I have to look at what is cost effective for the public,” he said.
“I don’t have the power to create positions; I don’t have the power to eliminate positions, but I can decide if I want to fill a position.
“I looked at the current public works director roles and responsibilities, I didn’t feel that I would replace it if it was vacant tomorrow, so then I proposed to eliminate it.
“I see value in the person; if we can retool that position to be more effective in my administration I am willing to look at that.”
In the structure Blaser would bring back the assistant city engineer, which would not be a new position but a new designation. A relief supervisor would also be added to parks, but would be a person designated from within as well.
Blaser said that the matter is not a budgeting issue, but more of a fund reallocation, for a position that earns about $151,000 in benefits and salary.
The matter is still under consideration with the Human Resources Committee.