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City council to hear presentation on public works department

City council to hear presentation on public works department

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The Grand Island City Council will hear a presentation on the public works department from Public Works Director John Collins at its meeting Tuesday.

This is the only agenda item.

In the weeks leading up to the introduction of the fiscal 2018 budget, the city council plans to have three study sessions devoted to looking at the city’s largest departments. This is the second study session.

Collins said the public works department’s 2017 budget is $41,919,385 — just under 20 percent of the city’s $214 million budget. More than half of that — $22,840,677 — is devoted to wastewater.

The public works department has eight divisions within it: administration, engineering services, fleet services, Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), solid waste, streets, transit and wastewater.

Collins said the public works department currently has 85 employees. Data in the meeting agenda packet shows there has been some reduction in the number of staffing within the divisions since 2007.

Fleet staff decreased from 2010 to 2012, losing one-third of its staff in the 10-year study period. It has remained steady since 2012. Wastewater division staff has increased slightly since 2012. Administration staffing has remained steady since 2007. He said the streets division has had a “pretty severe cut,” going from 28 people in 2010 to 25 in 2011. Its staffing numbers have remained at 23 since 2012.

“They have been gradually cutting (positions), which is odd because the city itself is growing 10 to 12 percent,” Collins said.

According to the meeting agenda packet, the MPO and transit functions (staffing) were added when the divisions were created. Collins said MPO was mandated when Grand Island became a Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA). It has been staffed by one person since 2014. The transit division is not staffed.

“We have not staffed it yet, but it is coming pretty hard because the paperwork is huge,” Collins said. “Transit is the only discretionary division we have. It is not mandated a city has to have it.”

According to data provided in the meeting agenda packet, the lane miles for streets in Grand Island has grown by a little more than 20 percent since 2000. There were 761.64 lane miles in 2000 and 921.72 miles in 2016. A total of 62 percent of the lane miles are concrete, 35 percent are asphalt and 3 percent are gravel.

Collins said the public works department has to do a pavement network evaluation every three years. According to the meeting agenda data, the city has the majority of its pavement — 37 percent — is in the excellent (80 to 100) range.

The pavement network average is in the very good (70 to 80) range. Collins added the reason the public works department scored so high is due to the influx of funds for resurfacing.

In light of the city’s introduction of the fiscal 2018 budget, Collins said he does not see the operations of the public works department changing as a result.

“We are always changing internally to make things more cost-effective,” he said.

The city council will meet at 7 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall.

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