City departments need to be organized efficiently.
In Osceola, this means the creation of a new street-department position.
“Last summer, we talked about the concept of moving to more of a public works way of organizing our departments,” said Osceola City Administrator/Clerk Ty Wheeler during an Osceola City Council meeting June 4. “At the end of that discussion what we decided to do was, through the process of attrition, as we have guys leave or retire, we hire in our new staff under that public works banner.”
Wheeler said he has come to realize how important succession planning is in city departments.
“Somebody’s going to have to pick up and go with (it), unless we start planning now,” he said. “So, with the funds that we are not going to spend on buying that equipment that we had budgeted, I’d like to add an assistant to the street department … so that some of that knowledge can start being handed down.”
Wheeler added, the city would be remiss if the council didn’t start preparing now.
Councilman Glen Schaff had concerns with equipment funding paying for the position.
“So, that justifies hiring another man?” he asked.
Wheeler answered the justification is the city needs to start planning now with a succession plan for the street department.
“You can’t keep hiring and hiring and hiring. I’m telling you,” Schaff said. “People’s taxes —they’re hollering all over town. And, all you want to do is hire more people, and they can’t afford it.”
Wheeler said the position isn’t paid through the general fund. It would be paid for through the street fund.
Mike Allen, superintendent of Osceola’s street department, who has been in the department for many years, attended the June 4 council meeting. He said he intended to remain in his position for another three to four years.
Making things better
Councilwoman Sarah Truitt said she wanted to clarify the purpose of the position is to improve the quality of the city’s departments and city itself.
“It’s all a bigger picture. I’m so frustrated. We’re trying to look into the future,” Truitt said. “We have someone really, really trying to help our community, and it’s so that we can help the people who live here. It’s not a matter of how many people we have employed. It’s a matter of doing a better job, and we can do better. We have done poorly in the past and we can do better.”
Truitt said she was frustrated about the city fighting its own progress.
“I feel like it’s a good thing for everyone if we can get things in order and get as much from Mike as we can,” she said. “We need his experience, and we need his knowledge. We need somebody to really soak that up in the next, however long we can. I feel like that position’s important. I don’t know why or how it could be a bad thing.”
Allen said he had mixed feelings about the street department needing another employee.
Currently, there are five people employed with the street department.
However, Allen said, three street department employees have five weeks vacation a year. and one employee has four weeks vacation a year.
“You take 24 weeks a year, there’s at least one guy gone,” Allen said. “That’s because they’ve been here a long time. That’s not because of anything else. That’s because they stayed.”
The council approved creating a new street department position. Schaff voted no.
However, council members said, even though the street-department position was created doesn’t mean it has to be filled right away.